Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a kind of congenital heart defect that enables blood flow between the left and right atria via the interatrial septum. The interatrial septum is the tissue that divides the right and left atria. Without this septum, or if there is a defect in this septum, it is possible for blood to travel from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, or vice versa. This results in the mixing of arterial and venous blood, which may or may not be clinically significant. This mixture of blood may or may not result in what is known as a "shunt".
There are different types of atrial septal defects such as
Symptoms that do occur may begin at any time after birth through childhood, and can include:
While the baby is in the womb, there is normally an opening between the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to allow blood to flow around the lungs. This opening usually closes around the time when the baby is born. If the opening does not close, the hole is called an atrial septal defect, or ASD.
The very first thing doctors do is to wait for a period of time to see if it closes on its own, while using medications. Many atrial septal defects close their own during childhood. For those that don't close, some small atrial septal defects don't cause any problems and may not require any treatment. But many persistent atrial septal defects eventually require surgery to be corrected.