ASD

Below you will find more information about ASD from Medigest. If you believe that you are suffering from any of the symptoms of ASD it is important that you obtain an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional to ensure that you obtain the correct medication or treatment for your condition. There are medical conditions that carry similar symptoms associated with ASD and therefore the information provided by Medigest is offered as a guideline only and should never be used in preference to seeking professional medical advice. The information relating to ASD comes from a third party source and Medigest will not be held liable for any inaccuracies relating to the information shown.

Definition

ASD (or atrial septal defect) is a congenital condition characterized by a hole in the wall between the left and right atria (the two upper chambers of the heart).

Diagnosis

ASD is often detected incidentally during an unrelated checkup that requires listening to the heart with a stethoscope. Physicians have reason to suspect ASD if a heart murmur is heard. An echocardiogram may also detect the same heart murmur, which leads to suspicion of ASD. In addition, ASD may be diagnosed through a chest x-ray, an electrocardiogram (ECG), a cardiac catheterization, or pulse oximetry.

Treatment

In most cases, small ASD may close on its own during infancy or early childhood. However, long-standing ASD has the potential to damage the hearts and lungs, thus decreasing the lifespan of affected patients. To treat ASD of this scale, surgical intervention becomes necessary to repair the hole and avoid further complications. Some surgical methods available for ASD treatment are cardiac catheterization and open-heart surgery. Some medications may also be recommended to alleviate some of the symptoms, although drug therapy alone won't close the hole.

Symptoms and Signs

Most infants born with ASD at birth do not exhibit any symptoms. In adults, the disease usually presents after the 30th year of life or even later. A heart murmur is the most common clinical presentation of ASD, and is usually detected accidentally during a routine check-up. Infants born with this genetic disease may not grow normally and suffer from poor appetites. Both infant and adult sufferers show signs of arrhythmias or heart failure. Long-standing ASD may manifest with fatigue, shortness of breath, leg/feet/abdomen swelling, as well as heart palpitations or skipped heart beats. If untreated, ASD may completely damage the patient's heart and lungs.

Causes

ASD or atrial septal defect is a congenital condition. This particular defect is believed to develop as a consequence of both genetic and environmental errors early in the heart's development. With ASD, freshly oxygenated blood flows from the left atrium to the right atrium, where it mixes with deoxygenated blood and is pumped back to the lungs, even if it has already been oxygenated. This results in an abnormal buildup of blood volume, which can overfill the lungs and consequently overexert the heart. If untreated, the right atrium may enlarge and weaken. Blood pressure in the lungs may also increase, eventually leading to pulmonary hypertension.

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