Atrial Septal Defect

What is Atrial Septal Defect?

Atrial septal defects (ASD) are congenital, which means that they are present at birth. A hole present in the upper two chambers of atria signifies the condition of atrial septal defect. If they are small during infancy they close on their own over a period of time However, some holes continue to grow into the patient’s adulthood. With such patients, heart failure or high blood pressure are common and may need surgery to clear the problem.


Although ASD is present since birth, signs start showing once you reach 30 and above. They include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Swelling in the legs, feet and the abdomen
  • Infections in the lungs
  • Stroke
  • Shortness in breath
  • A sound is heard when the stethoscope is kept above your chest


Genetic factors run in the families and is also the main reason for babies being born with ASD defects. The other risk factors include:

  • Drug/Tobacco/Alcohol Abuse: When consumed during pregnancy can have an adverse effect on the baby’s growth.
  • Rubella Infection: A pregnant woman diagnosed with rubella in the first few months pose a risk of foetal heart diseases
  • Diabetes or Lupus: This condition too can cause birth defects.
  • Phenylketonuria: You are more prone to have this condition if you are irregular with your PKU plan


When you explain your child’s symptoms with your doctor he may put you through the following tests to make a solid diagnosis. They include:

  • Echocardiogram: This reveals the state of your heart. It gives images of your hearts chambers their pumping capacity. It also checks for any defects in the valves of the heart.
  • Chest X-Ray: A chest x-ray examines the condition of the lungs and the heart.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): This measures the rhythmic beats in your heart.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: A catheter is inserted in to your groin or arm area in to your heart. This test helps in analysing any congenital heart defects, the pumping and the functioning of the heart.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): It uses a magnetic field to take 3D images of the heart. This can very clearly diagnose any atrial septal defects.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan: It uses a series of x-rays to capture images of the heart. It is used to diagnose an atrial septal defect.


Atrial septal defects mostly clear on their own. The smaller ones that eventually get covered up or can be treated with medications such as anticoagulants so that there are no blood clots formed. Some small ones become larger or the larger ones can create problems as they grow. A surgery has to be conducted on the patient when medications fail.

  • Surgery: Surgery for an ASD patient with pulmonary hypertension cannot be conducted. While for other children, ASD’s from large to small can be treated by correcting them through surgery. The procedures adopted here are:
  • Cardiac Catheterization: The doctors send a catheter or a thin tube through the groin area into the heart with the help of imaging techniques. They cover the hole with a mesh patch or plug it in the place where there is a hole and seal it. The heart tissue grows around the mesh slowly permanently covering the hole.
  • Open Heart Surgery: A heart lung machine is attached to the body. The patient is now under general anaesthesia. The surgeon covers the large hole with many patches. This procedure is preferred for many atrial septal defects. These defects can only be repaired through open heart surgery.


KIMS is the best paediatric cardiology centres in Hyderabad as they have well quipped operation theatres and experienced medical practitioners who have expertise in dealing with different atrial septal defects and conducting open-heart surgeries.



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