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Atrial Septal Defect Surgical Repair


Atrial septal defect (ASD) surgery is done 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.



  • Antibiotics help prevent a heart infection called bacterial endocarditis. You may need to take antibiotics before dental or other procedures for up to 6 months after your ASD surgery. Tell all your caregivers about your ASD surgery. Always take your antibiotics as directed by your primary healthcare provider (PHP) or cardiologist.
  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots from forming. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and be life-threatening. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are taking a blood thinner:
    • 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 on your teeth. If you shave, use an electric shaver.
    • Be aware of what medicines you take. Many medicines cannot be used when taking medicine to thin your blood. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take blood-thinning medicine. Wear or carry medical alert information that says you are taking this medicine.
    • Take this medicine exactly as your PHP tells you. Tell him right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much. You may need to have regular blood tests while on this medicine.
    • Talk to your PHP about your diet. This medicine works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and other foods.

  • Heart medicine helps strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.
  • Aspirin thins the blood to keep blood clots from forming. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
  • Blood pressure medicine lowers your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Take your blood pressure medicine exactly as directed.
  • Diuretics help remove extra fluid that collects in your body, such as in your heart or lungs. This helps decrease your blood pressure. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your PHP or cardiologist if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him 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.

Follow up with your PHP or cardiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Cardiac rehabilitation:

Your PHP or cardiologist may recommend that you attend cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). This is a program run by specialists who will help you safely strengthen your heart and prevent more heart disease. The plan includes exercise, relaxation, stress management, and heart-healthy nutrition. Caregivers will also check to make sure any medicines you are taking are working.


Rest when you feel it is needed. It may take 6 to 8 weeks after surgery before you feel completely better. Ask friends or family to help you with your daily activities. Slowly start to do more each day, but do not overdo it. You may feel like resting more after surgery. Avoid lifting heavy objects. Ask when you can start doing your usual activities again. This includes taking a shower or bath, driving, and returning to work.

Wound care:

Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.

Weigh yourself daily 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.

Contact your PHP or cardiologist if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You gain 2 to 3 pounds in a day or 5 pounds in a week.
  • Your stitches or staples come apart.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • Your heart feels like it is beating too fast or unevenly.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Part of your face droops or is numb
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Atrial Septal Defect Surgical Repair (Discharge Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes