Atrial Septal Defect
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the septum (wall) between the upper chambers of your heart. This hole may be small or large. An ASD is a common heart defect that people are born with. It prevents blood from flowing through your heart in a normal way. Your heart works harder to pump blood. Over time, an ASD can damage your heart and lungs.
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Closure of the ASD may increase your risk for a heart infection called bacterial endocarditis. With or without treatment, you may have an irregular heartbeat. Without treatment, you may have frequent lung infections and increased blood pressure in your lungs. You may also develop heart failure. You may develop blood clots that cause a stroke, which can be life-threatening.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
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- Blood thinners prevent blood clots. They may make you bruise or bleed more easily.
- Heart medicine helps your heart beat more regularly.
- An EKG records the electrical activity of your heart. It is used to check the amount of time it takes for the right ventricle to contract (pump blood). An EKG can show signs of other problems that may happen with ASD.
- A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.
- Blood gases (ABGs) are used to test the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. The results can tell caregivers how well your lungs are working.
- A cardiac catheterization is a test used to show how well your heart is working, or to measure pressure. A tube is threaded into your heart through a blood vessel in your leg or arm. You may be given a dye before x-ray pictures of your arteries are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
- A chest x-ray can show if the right atrium and ventricle are larger than the left atrium and ventricle. The pictures can also show if the pulmonary arteries are larger than they should be.
- An echocardiogram uses sound waves to show pictures of your heart. It can show caregivers the size of the ASD and how blood flows through your heart. It can also show how well your heart is pumping.
- Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that is used to place a patch or plug on the hole through a catheter (thin tube). The catheter is placed into an artery in your groin and guided up to your heart.
- Open heart surgery may be needed to close the ASD with stitches, a patch, or a piece of your heart tissue.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.