A child born with a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart has a condition known as atrial septal defect (ASD). These chambers, separated by a wall of tissue called the atrial septum, are called the right atrium and left atrium.
A hole in the atrial septum allows blood from the left atrium to enter the right side of the heart. This can lead to enlargement of the right side of the heart, too much fluid in the lungs and heart failure.
When symptoms are present, they may develop within the first few months of life, during childhood or later in life. Possible symptoms include:
Many people with an ASD have no symptoms, especially if the hole is small.
Often, an ASD is first detected by listening to the chest with a stethoscope. Your child’s doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds or a murmur. These sounds suggest blood is not flowing smoothly through the heart. Additional exams and tests may be performed to determine the size of the opening and how its size affects the heart and lungs. Tests may include:
About half of ASDs close without treatment. One in five ASDs will close naturally during the first year of life. Your child’s doctor may suggest careful monitoring to see if the opening closes on its own before recommending further treatment.
While some ASDs close over time, others require treatment. Options include:
Visit the websites below to find support groups, services and learn more about atrial septal defects.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This U.S. government website offers health information to help parents and caregivers research conditions such as ASD.
This resource is published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and shares information about many conditions, including ASD.
Clinical research is vital to finding new tests to help with diagnosis and new treatments. Our pediatric cardiologists actively participate in many studies at a local and national level, including research funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Program Project—a major institution that studies the cause and treatment of heart conditions. Cardiologists at Riley at IU Health may ask whether you are interested in volunteering your child for participation in clinical studies.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
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