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An Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is a hole in the part of the septum that
separates the atria (the upper chambers of the heart). This hole allows
oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium to flow into the right atrium instead of
flowing into the left ventricle as it should.
This means that oxygen-rich blood gets pumped back to the lungs, where it has just been, instead of going to the body.
An ASD can be small or large. Small ASDs allow only a little blood to flow from one atrium to the other. Small ASDs don't affect the way the heart works and don't need any special treatment. Many small ASDs close on their own as the heart grows during childhood.
Medium to large ASDs allow more blood to leak from one atrium to the other, and they are less likely to close on their own. Most children who have ASDs have no symptoms, even if they have large ASDs.
The three major types of ASDs are:
Sinus Venosus- This defect is in the upper part of the atrial septum, near where a large vein (the superior vena cava) brings oxygen-poor blood from the upper body to the right atrium. Sinus venosus defects are rare, and they don't close on their own.
Over time, if an ASD isn't repaired, the extra blood flow to the right side
of the heart and lungs may cause heart problems. Usually, most of these
problems don't show up until adulthood, often around age 30 or later.
Complications are rare in infants and children.
Possible complications include:
These problems develop over many years and don't occur in children. They also are rare in adults because most ASDs either close on their own or are repaired in early childhood.
Source: Information provided courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.
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