Pediatric Atrial Septal Defect
What is an atrial septal defect?
Pediatric atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital (present at birth) heart condition where there is a hole in the heart’s upper septum (the divide between the left and right sides of the heart).
As a baby develops in the womb, it is typical for there to be openings in the heart, but they usually close right before or just after birth. When a hole remains in the septum between the upper heart chambers after birth, this is called an atrial septal defect (ASD).
ASD causes increased blood flow within the heart and to lungs. If the hole isn’t repaired, it can cause permanent lung damage and other health complications. No one knows exactly why ASD occurs, but it is thought to be genetic or the result of environmental factors.
What are the symptoms of an atrial septal defect?
Most children with ASD will not experience symptoms. Less common symptoms include:
- Heart murmur (irregular heartbeat)
- Poor/stunted growth
- Frequent respiratory infections
- General fatigue (tiredness)
- Shortness of breath
- Become easily tired while playing