May also be called: ASD
An atrial septal defect, or ASD — sometimes referred to as a hole in the heart — is a type of congenital heart defect in which there is an abnormal opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart (the atria).
The heart has four chambers: The two lower pumping chambers (the ventricles) and the two upper filling chambers (the atria). Blood that is low in oxygen returns from the body to the right atrium before passing to the right ventricle and then to the lungs to receive oxygen. Oxygen-rich blood returns to the left atrium before passing to the left ventricle, where it is pumped out to the rest of the body.
The right and left atria are separated by a thin shared wall called the atrial septum. Kids with an ASD are born with an opening in this wall that allows oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix, increasing the total amount of blood that flows toward the lungs. The blood flowing through the hole creates an extra noise, known as a heart murmur, that can be heard when a doctor listens to the heart with a stethoscope.
Treatment for an ASD depends on the child's age and the size, location, and severity of the defect. Very small ASDs may close on their own. Larger ASDs usually won't close and must be treated medically. Most of these can be closed in a cardiac catheterization lab, although some will require open-heart surgery. Large ASDs can cause symptoms like poor appetite, poor growth, fatigue, shortness of breath, and lung problems or infections, such as pneumonia.
A small ASD will usually close without treatment within the first 2 years of a child's life. If a larger ASD is not treated, health complications can develop later, but most kids with ASDs are diagnosed and treated long before the heart defect causes physical symptoms. Typically, after repair and adequate time for healing, kids with ASDs rarely have further symptoms.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) The NHLBI provides the public with educational resources relating to the treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases as well as sleep disorders.|
|Congenital Heart Information Network The Congenital Heart Information Network's goal is to provide information and resources to families of children with congenital and acquired heart disease, adults with congenital heart defects, and the professionals who work with them.|
|American Heart Association This group is dedicated to providing education and information on fighting heart disease and stroke. Contact the American Heart Association at: American Heart Association|
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|Ventricular Septal Defect Ventricular septal defect, or VSD, is a heart condition that a few teens can have. Find out what it is, how it happens, and what doctors do to correct it.|
|Ventricular Septal Defect Ventricular septal defect (VSD) - also known as a "hole in the heart" - is a congenital heart defect. Fortunately, most VSDs are diagnosed and treated successfully.|
|Heart and Circulatory System The heart and circulatory system (also called the cardiovascular system) make up the network that delivers blood to the body's tissues.|
|Flash Interactive: Atrial Septal Defects Atrial septal defect (ASD) - also known as a "hole in the heart" - is a type of congenital heart disease. Fortunately, most ASDs are diagnosed and treated successfully.|
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|A to Z: Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) Learn about congenital heart defects and conditions that affect the heart and circulatory system.|
|Heart Murmurs Everyone's heart makes sounds, but some people have hearts that make more noise than others. Usually, however, these heart murmurs don't mean anything is wrong. Find out more about these mysterious murmurs.|
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|The Heart Your heart beats and sends oxygen throughout your entire body. Find out how it works and how heart problems can be fixed.|
|Arrhythmias Arrhythmias are abnormal heartbeats usually caused by an electrical "short circuit" in the heart. Many are minor and not a significant health threat, but others can indicate a more serious problem.|
|Atrial Septal Defect Atrial septal defect (ASD) - also known as a "hole in the heart" - is a type of congenital heart disease. Fortunately, most ASDs are diagnosed and treated successfully.|
|Atrial Septal Defect Atrial septal defect, or ASD, is a heart condition that teens can have. In most cases, ASDs are diagnosed and treated successfully with few or no complications.|
|Atrial Septal Defect An atrial septal defect is an opening in the wall between two parts of the heart that lets oxygen-rich blood from one side mix with oxygen-poor blood on the other side. Read more about ASDs in this article for kids.|
|Congenital Heart Defects Congenital heart defects involve abnormal or incomplete development of the heart. Learn about the different types of congenital heart defects.|
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