Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
A muscular wall called the septum separates the heart’s upper chambers, known as the atria. An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the septum.
The hole allows blood to move from the left atrium into the right atrium, causing the right side to become overloaded with blood. Consequently, the lungs, where the right side of the heart sends the blood, also become overloaded with blood.
The right ventricle eventually weakens due to extra stress. People are usually born with ASD and symptoms commonly appear when patients are in their 20s.
Atrial Septal Defect Symptoms
Symptoms of atrial septal defect include:
- Arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation
- “Feeling” your heart beat through your chest (palpitations)
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
Diagnosis of Atrial Septal Defect
Your UT Southwestern Medical Center doctor may use several tests to diagnose atrial septal defect. Common diagnostic tests include:
- Cardiac catheterization
- To detect higher oxygen saturation of blood in the right side of the heart
- Chest X-ray
- To see the condition of the heart and lungs; may identify conditions other than a heart defect to explain symptoms
- Images of heart beating and blood flowing to identify various abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves
- Known as an ECG or EKG, records electrical signals as they travel through the heart to look for patterns and rhythms to diagnose various heart conditions
- Abnormal sounds in the heart; squishing sound as blood flows between atria
Treatment Options for Atrial Septal Defect
- Atrial septal defect closure
- Open or minimally invasive surgery using either a synthetic patch or your own pericardium, the membrane surrounding the heart
- Cardiac catheterization closure
- A catheter sent through an artery into the heart to close the hole
- Leads to increased fluid loss
Request an Appointment
To meet with an atrial septal defect specialist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.