Learn About Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

What is the definition of Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a heart defect that is present at birth (congenital).

As a baby develops in the womb, a wall (septum) forms that divides the upper chamber into a left and right atrium. When this wall does not form correctly, it can result in a defect that remains after birth. This is called an atrial septal defect, or ASD.

Save information for later
Sign Up
What are the alternative names for Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

Congenital heart defect - ASD; Birth defect heart - ASD; Primum ASD; Secundum ASD

What are the causes of Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

Normally, blood cannot flow between the two upper heart chambers. However, an ASD allows this to happen.

When blood flows between the two heart chambers, this is called a shunt. Blood most often flows from the left to the right side. When this happens the right side of the heart enlarges. Over time pressure in the lungs may build up. When this happens, the blood flowing through the defect will then go from right to left. If this occurs, there will be less oxygen in the blood that goes to the body.

Atrial septal defect

Atrial septal defects are defined as primum or secundum.

  • The primum defects are linked to other heart defects of the ventricular septum and mitral valve.
  • Secundum defects can be a single, small or large hole. They may also be more than one small hole in the septum or wall between the two chambers.

Very small defects (less than 5 millimeters or ¼ inch) are less likely to cause problems. Smaller defects are often discovered much later in life than larger ones.

Along with the size of the ASD, where the defect is located plays a role that affects blood flow and oxygen levels. The presence of other heart defects is also important.

ASD is not very common.

What are the symptoms of Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

A person with no other heart defect, or a small defect (less than 5 millimeters) may not have any symptoms, or symptoms may not occur until middle age or later.

Symptoms that do occur may begin at any time after birth through childhood. They can include:

  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Frequent respiratory infections in children
  • Feeling the heart beat (palpitations) in adults
  • Shortness of breath with activity
Not sure about your diagnosis?
Check Your Symptoms
What are the current treatments for Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

ASD may not need treatment if there are few or no symptoms, or if the defect is small and is not associated with other abnormalities. Surgery to close the defect is recommended if the defect causes a large amount of shunting, the heart is swollen, or symptoms occur.

A procedure has been developed to close the defect (if no other abnormalities are present) without open heart surgery.

  • The procedure involves placing an ASD closure device into the heart through tubes called catheters.
  • The health care provider makes a tiny cut in the groin, then inserts the catheters into a blood vessel and up into the heart.
  • The closure device is then placed across the ASD and the defect is closed.

Sometimes, open-heart surgery may be needed to repair the defect. The type of surgery is more likely needed when other heart defects are present.

Some people with atrial septal defects may be able to have this procedure, depending on the size and location of the defect.

People who have a procedure or surgery to close an ASD should get antibiotics before any dental procedures they have in the period following the procedure. Antibiotics are not needed later on.

Who are the top Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Local Doctors?
Elite
Elite
 
 
 
 
Learn about our expert tiers
Learn more
Elite
What is the outlook (prognosis) for Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

In infants, small ASDs (less than 5 mm) will often not cause problems, or will close without treatment. Larger ASDs (8 to 10 mm), often do not close and may need a procedure.

Important factors include the size of the defect, the amount of extra blood flowing through the opening, the size of the right side of the heart, and whether the person has any symptoms.

Some people with ASD may have other congenital heart conditions. These may include a leaky valve or a hole in another area of the heart.

What are the possible complications of Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

People with a larger or more complicated ASD are at an increased risk for developing other problems, including:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms, particularly atrial fibrillation
  • Heart failure
  • Heart infection (endocarditis)
  • High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs
  • Stroke
When should I contact a medical professional for Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

Contact your provider if you have symptoms of an atrial septal defect.

How do I prevent Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?

There is no known way to prevent the defect. Some of the complications can be prevented with early detection.

What are the latest Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Clinical Trials?
Multi Centre, International, Post Market Registry to Monitor the Clinical Performance and Safety of an Atrial Septal Closure Device With Bioresorbable Framework in Patients With Clinically Significant Atrial Septum Defect (ASD) or Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) in Routine Clinical Use
Summary: Multi centre, international, post market registry to monitor the clinical performance and safety of an atrial septal closure device with biodegradable framework in patients with clinically significant atrial septum defect (ASD) or patent foramen ovale (PFO) in routine clinical use
Match to trials
Find the right clinical trials for you in under a minute
Get started
Iatrogenic Atrial Septal Defect Study
Summary: This is an open-label, randomized, controlled trial of iatrogenic atrial septal defect closure with the an atrial septal occluder versus usual care observation in patients post-mitral valve intervention requiring large bore transspetal access.
What are the Latest Advances for Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)?
Treatment strategies for thromboembolism-in-transit with pulmonary embolism.
Summary: Treatment strategies for thromboembolism-in-transit with pulmonary embolism.
Transcatheter Closure of Atrial and Ventricular Septal Defects: JACC Focus Seminar.
Summary: Transcatheter Closure of Atrial and Ventricular Septal Defects: JACC Focus Seminar.
Tired of the same old research?
Check Latest Advances
Atrial Septal Defect Closure Via Mini Thoracotomy and with Peripheral Cannulation.
Summary: Atrial Septal Defect Closure Via Mini Thoracotomy and with Peripheral Cannulation.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: January 09, 2022
Published By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Liegeois JR, Rigby ML. Atrial septal defect (interatrial communication). In: Gatzoulis MA, Webb GD, Daubeney PEF, eds. Diagnosis and Management of Adult Congenital Heart Disease. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 29.

Silvestry FE, Cohen MS, Armsby LB, et al. Guidelines for the echocardiographic assessment of atrial septal defect and patent foramen ovale: from the American Society of Echocardiography and Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions. J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2015;28(8):910-958. PMID: 26239900 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26239900/.

Sodhi N, Zajarias A, Balzer DT, Lasala JM. Percutaneous closure of patent formen ovale and atrial septal defect. In: Topol EJ, Teirstein PS, eds. Textbook of Interventional Cardiology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 49.

Valente AM, Dorfman AL, Babu-Narayan SV, Krieger EV. Congenital heart disease in the adolescent and adult. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Bhatt DL, Solomon SD, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 82.