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Atrial Septal Defect


An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the septum (wall) between the upper chambers of your heart. The hole may be small or large. An ASD causes a problem with the way blood moves through your heart. This makes your heart work harder to pump blood. Over time, an ASD can damage your heart and lungs. An ASD can also lead to a stroke if a blood clot is pumped out to a blood vessel in your brain.

Atrial Septal Defect


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • Medicines may be given to control your heartbeat or decrease stress on your heart. Medicines may also be given to lower pressure in your lungs.
  • Blood thinners may be given to prevent blood clots. This medicine may make you bleed or bruise more easily.
  • Diuretics help remove extra fluid from your body. You may urinate more than usual while you are taking this medicine.


  • A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on all of the time to record your heart's electrical activity.
  • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.


  • Blood and urine tests show your kidney function and give information about your overall health.
  • An EKG test records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats. It is used to check for abnormal heartbeats and other heart problems.
  • X-ray, CT, or MRI pictures will show the size and location of the ASD. It may also show problems in your lungs. You may be given contrast liquid to help your heart and lungs show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. It uses sound waves to form pictures of blood flow through the arteries of the heart. The pictures show all 4 heart chambers, including valves, the lining, and the aorta. Doppler is used to measure how fast blood flows through the arteries. This test is called TTE if the sensor is placed on your chest or abdomen. It is called TEE if the sensor is placed down into your esophagus.
  • Cardiac catheterization is a procedure to check how well your heart is working. It is also used to measure pressure in different parts of your heart. A tube is guided into your heart through a blood vessel in your leg or arm. You may be given contrast liquid to help your heart show up better in pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


  • Cardiac catheterization may also be used to close the ASD. The catheter is placed into an artery in your groin, neck, or arm and guided up to your heart. A small stitch, patch, or plug is used to close the hole.
  • Open heart surgery may be needed to close the ASD with stitches, a patch, or a plug.


An ASD may cause abnormal heartbeats, damage to your lungs, or heart failure. You may develop blood clots that cause a stroke. Any of these problems can become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.

Learn more about Atrial Septal Defect (Inpatient Care)

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