An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the heart’s atrial septum – the muscular wall that separates the heart’s two upper chambers, or atria. This congenital heart defect makes the heart work harder than it should.
The hole in the atrial septum allows oxygen-rich blood from the left chamber of the heart to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the right chamber. Some oxygen-rich blood is pumped to your lungs – where it just arrived from – instead of to your body.
At Aurora Health Care, our surgeons and cardiologists (heart specialists) are experts in diagnosing and treating all types of heart conditions, including ASDs. We will schedule your appointment quickly, listen to your concerns and help you get the treatment you need to keep your heart working correctly.
The good news is that once an ASD has been repaired, most people don’t need further treatment.
An ASD is a congenital heart defect, meaning it develops before birth. Doctors are unsure what causes ASD to occur.
Several types of ASDs can develop:
Most infants born with ASD have no symptoms, even when the hole in the heart is large. Often, if the hole is smaller, it closes as the heart grows, so there are no symptoms or complications.
If an ASD does cause symptoms, they usually appear in people aged 30 and older. The most common symptom of an atrial septal defect is a heart murmur, an extra or unusual sound during a heartbeat.
Other ASD symptoms include:
If we suspect an ASD, we may perform tests or order imaging to understand how your heart works.
Tests and imaging may include:
Learn more about heart and vascular diagnosis and testing at Aurora.
Many people who might have a minor ASD don’t need treatment. This includes children and adults who don’t have symptoms.
Large holes in the heart can make the heart work too hard. These ASDs may require one or more forms of care: