Patients with an atrial septal defect (ASD) have a hole in the wall of the heart that separates the top two chambers. This hole allows blood to transition from the left atrium to the right atrium, ultimately causing enlargement of the right heart chambers. This can cause a decrease in heart function.
Atrial septal defects can be detected during physical examinations or, for those experiencing symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue, or abnormal rhythms, through cardiac testing such as electrocardiograms or chest x-rays.
Management and treatment of atrial septal defects are determined based on the size and location of the hole. If the hole is small, typically observation is recommended. For medium or large holes, closure by means of a catheter or surgical intervention is recommended. Following treatment, patients most often see improvements in their overall symptoms.
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