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Talking With Your Doctor About Heart Defect Treatment

There are a variety of options when it comes to treating heart defects, from medications to surgery and catheter procedures.

What is an atrial or ventricular septal defect repair?

An atrial or ventricular septal defect repair closes a hole in the heart’s septum. A septum, or wall, separates the two top chambers, or atria, and the two bottom chambers, or ventricles. Your doctor will sew the hole closed or patch the hole with your own tissue or a synthetic patch. 

Septal defects are congenital defects that are often diagnosed at birth or shortly after birth. Symptoms of septal defects may not appear in some people until childhood or even adulthood. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and a heart murmur. Left untreated, a septal defect can lead to an enlarged heart, heart failure, and high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).

Small septal defects may close without treatment or may not pose a health risk. Larger holes that cause symptoms or put you at risk of complications require treatment. A septal defect repair can relieve symptoms and prevent complications and irreversible heart and lung damage.

An atrial or ventricular septal defect repair is major surgery that has risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having an atrial or ventricular septal defect repair. 

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 5, 2013

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Medical References

  1. About Atrial Septal Defects. Nemours Foundation. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/asd.html#.
  2. Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Atrial-S....
  3. Minimally-Invasive Atrial Septal Defect Closure. Johns Hopkins. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/conditions_treatments/treatments/minimally_i....
  4. Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62. http://ccjm.org/content/73/Suppl_1/S62.full.pdf.
  5. Robotically Assisted Heart Surgery: Atrial Septal Defect (ASD): New Approaches to Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/services/surgery/roboticallyassistedhasd.aspx.
  6. Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Ventricu....
  7. Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ventricular-septal-defect/DS00614/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.
  8. Ventricular Septal Defects. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/congenital/septal.aspx.
  9. Webb G, Gatzoulis MA. Atrial septal defects in the adult: recent progress and overview. Circulation. 2006 Oct 10;114(15):1645-53. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/114/15/1645.full.

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