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Atrial Septal Defect Repair


An atrial septal defect repair (ASD) is surgery to close a hole in the septum (wall) between the upper chambers of your heart. The upper chambers are called the right atrium and the left atrium. An ASD repair is done through open heart surgery.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Your heart is beating faster or slower than usual.
  • Your arm or leg is larger than usual, painful, and warm.
  • You stop urinating or urinate less than usual.
  • You have swelling in your ankles or feet.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your pain does not get better even after you take your pain medicine.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Heart medicine helps strengthen and control your heartbeat. You may also need medicine to lower your blood pressure.
  • Diuretics help remove extra fluid.
  • Antibiotics help prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
    • Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
    • Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take a blood thinner. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
    • Do not start or stop any other medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
    • Take your blood thinner exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not skip does or take less than prescribed. Tell your provider right away if you forget to take your blood thinner, or if you take too much.
    • Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin:
      • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
      • You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound as directed:

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can remove the bandage and bathe. Your incision may look bruised or swollen. The bruising and swelling should get better in a few days. Carefully wash around the wound with soap and water. It is okay to let soap and water run over your incision. Do not scrub your wound. Gently pat the area dry and put on a new, clean bandage as directed.
  • Change your bandage if it gets wet or dirty. Do not put powders or lotions on your incision unless your healthcare provider says it is okay. Do not swim or take a bath until your healthcare provider says it is okay. This will help prevent a wound infection. Check your incision every day for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.

Weigh yourself daily as directed:

Weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast. Weight gain can be a sign of extra fluid in your lungs or body. Extra fluid can make your heart work harder and can cause health problems.

Weight Checks THA

Prevent infection:

  • Wash your hands often. Use a germ-killing hand gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Stay away from others who are sick. Tell family and friends not to visit if they are sick. Ask all visitors to wash their hands when they visit. Do not go to crowded places such as the mall or movie theater. Ask your healthcare provider how long you need to follow these directions.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need antibiotics before procedures. Some procedures may allow bacteria to get into your blood and travel to your heart. This can cause an infection in your heart and prevent you from healing. You may need antibiotics before certain procedures that happen in the next 6 months to prevent infection. This may also include certain dental procedures. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about vaccines. You may need to wait 2 to 3 months to get vaccines. You should get a flu vaccine every year.


  • Rest as directed. Do not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds or do vigorous activities. Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay. These actions will put too much stress on your incision. Ask your healthcare provider what activities are safe for you to do. Also ask when you can return to your normal activities and work or school.
  • Eat heart healthy foods. You may need to eat foods that are low in salt, fat, or cholesterol. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about a heart healthy diet.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause heart and lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Ask your cardiologist if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Extra weight can increase the stress on your heart. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Exercise as directed after you recover. Your healthcare provider can help you create an exercise plan that is right for you. Exercise will help keep your heart healthy.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need to return for tests. These tests will make sure your heart is working correctly. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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 Repair (Discharge Care)

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