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Signs, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments for Atrial Septal Defects

Human heart consists of four essential chambers that regulate and maintain its normal activity. Pumping chambers are called as left and right ventricles as they are located on left and right side. Similarly, receiving chambers are termed as left and right atria. Atrial septal defects (ASD) is a health condition that causes a hole in wall of atria. This heart disorder is congenital in nature which signifies that it is present by birth in an individual. It has been observed that small ASDs close on their own during developmental phase of children. However, large ASDs require an apt treatment. Otherwise, it may create several life-threatening complications and may cause patient’s death as well.

Signs, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments for Atrial Septal Defects


Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Septal Defects

There are no prominent symptoms of ASD in infants. The following list elaborates some major signs and symptoms of atrial septal defects that are observed in children and adults.

  •  Shortness of Breath – Patients suffering from ASDs may experience shortness of breath especially when they exercise or perform any type of physical activity.
  •  Fatigue – Patients with an underlying ASD may encounter extreme weakness and tiredness or fatigue.
  •  Swelling – Patients may get severe and painful swelling around their legs, stomach area or feet.
  •  Irregular Heartbeats – Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat condition is the most common symptom associated with atrial septal defects.
  •  Lung Infections – Patients suffering from atrial septal defects are more prone to lung infections. Frequently occurring lung infections could be an indication of ASD.

Patients struggling with such problems must stay careful and visit a qualified doctor as early as possible. Any kind of negligence may prove fatal over a period.

Causes and Risk Factors for Atrial Septal Defects

Unfortunately, there are no known causes for the development of atrial septal defects in heart. However, medical experts believe that faulty genes and several environmental factors play a major role in the development of ASD. Apart from this, the following points describe some main risk factors associated with ASD.

  • Drug Abuse – Women, especially the ones who are in their pregnancy phase who drink a lot or eat tobacco in large amounts have a greater likelihood of delivering a baby with ASD.
  • Lupus and Diabetes – Women suffering from diabetes and lupus are likely to have a baby with ASD in their hearts.
  • Rubella Infection and Phenylketonuria (PKU) – Pregnant women who are struggling with diseases like rubella infection or phenylketonuria are more prone to give birth to a baby with ASD. Therefore, such women must keep a tab on their health and follow doctor’s instructions carefully.
  • Being Overweight – Being overweight or obese is not good. Obesity during pregnancy can result in various complications including ASD. Therefore, pregnant ladies must eat healthy foods for conceiving a healthy baby. 

Major Types of Atrial Septal Defects

The given points elaborate four major types of atrial septal defects.

Ostium Secundum – This type of atrial septal defect emerges due to development of hole in central region of atrial wall. It is one of the most common types of ASDs and affects nearly 70 percent of children with atrial septal defect.

Ostium Primum – This type of ASD arises due to presence of hole in bottom-most portion of atria. Children with some pre-existing heart conditions are likely to develop ostium primum.

Sinus Venosus – This type of ASD occurs due to development of hole in uppermost part of patient’s atria.

Coronary Sinus – This condition arises rarely as compared to other types of ASD. Such defect develops within the coronary sinus region of heart.

Diagnosing Atrial Septal Defects


Signs, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments for Atrial Septal Defects

At first, doctors may ask the patients regarding signs and symptoms which are bothering them. They may also ask regarding their complete medical history. It will give them a brief idea of patient’s current condition. After a basic initial consultation, respective heart specialists may order the following diagnostic tests which can help them in determining atrial septal defect causes and their befitting treatment plans.

Echocardiogram (Echo) – This test generates high-quality as well as real time images of patient’s heart. It allows respective cardiac surgeons to have a thorough inspection of patient’s heart and locate underlying heart defects.

Chest X-Rays – Chest x-rays are capable of generating images of heart, lungs as well as surrounding structures which enables respective surgeons to check the signs of heart problems.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) – This test is capable of measuring heart activity of patients with a high degree of accuracy. It can easily identify abnormal heartbeat problems.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI Test) – Magnetic resonance imaging test is one of the most trusted diagnostic tests for finding out atrial septal defects. It uses radio frequencies and magnetic fields for producing images of patient’s internal heart and other structures.

Computerized Tomography Procedure (CT Scan) – Computerized tomography is similar to an MRI procedure. The only difference is that it uses x-rays for generating high-quality images of internal parts of patient’s body.


Treatment Options for Atrial Septal Defects

Treatment for atrial septal defects mainly depends on the size of hole in atria. Small sized ASDs can be easily managed with the help of monitoring and medications. Whereas, a surgical repair is necessary for treating medium to large atrial septal defects effectively.

  • Medical Management for ASDs – Children or adults suffering from small sized ASD with no particular symptoms does not require any aggressive treatment. Regular monitoring sessions can help them stay fit. Doctors may also prescribe medicines such as digoxin and diuretics for strengthening heart muscles of patients.
  • Surgical Repair for Atrial Septal Defects – The following two surgeries are capable of repairing severe atrial septal defects.
  • Cardiac Catheterization – Cardiac catheterization is a simple surgical procedure. During this ASD closure method, doctors insert a thin and flexible device known as ‘catheter’ through patient’s arms or groin for accessing their hearts. It has a camera which guides respective doctors to locate the exact position which needs to be treated. Catheter also carries a sophisticated mesh patch or plug which the doctors carefully place at desired location for closing the hole. This procedure is mostly performed for closing ostium secundum atrial septal defects.
  • Open Heart Surgery – An open-heart surgery is performed under general anesthetics. Doctors temporarily stop the functioning of heart and use a heart-lung machine to reciprocate the functions until the surgery is completed. At first, respective cardiac surgeons make a long incision in patient’s chest area. They access the heart of patients via this incision, place a patch over the hole and close the incision carefully. This technique is mainly performed for primum sinus venosus atrial septal defect.

Doctors may monitor the patients for some time interval after completion of their surgery in order to prevent post-surgical complications.

Risks and Complications Associated with Atrial Septal Defect Treatments

The following points depict some general risks and complications associated with above-mentioned treatments for atrial septal defects.

  • Fluid Buildup – Fluid may accumulate around heart of patients following ASD closure In such cases, an immediate care is required.
  • Heavy Bleeding – There are chances of heavy bleeding around incision site. In such instances, patients must contact their doctors as early as possible to avoid complications.
  • Hematoma – Patients may have to face problem of hematoma which indicates collection of blood in their arm or groin region.
  • Infection – Patients may develop a severe infection following ASD treatment. Doctors may give antibiotics in order to reduce such type of health risks.
  • Decreased Blood Flow – Sometimes, normal blood flow to the heart may get affected temporarily after completion of ASD treatment.
  • Risk of Stroke and Heart Failure – In rare instances, stroke or heart failure may occur following ASD closure

Recovery Following Treatment of Atrial Septal Defects

Recovery will solely depend on patient’s general health, specific type of atrial septal defect and treatment which is given to them as well. Respective cardiac surgeons may ask them to stay in the hospital for two to three days if ASD closure surgery is performed. In addition to this, they may be asked to follow a special type of diet until they recover completely. Patients must not forget to visit their cardiac surgeons for follow-up care as it is the key factor for speeding up recovery process.

Benefits of Availing Atrial Septal Defect Treatment in India with IndianMedTrip

IndianMedTrip is one of the leading healthcare tourism facilitators across the globe. Medical consultants at IndianMedTrip are associated well-experienced cardiac surgeons and accredited healthcare facilities in India which are renowned for providing best quality heart treatments and surgeries for atrial septal defect (ASD). They offer free online medical consultation to overseas patients who are willing to visit India for availing high quality as well as cost-effective ASD closure surgery. As a matter of fact, ASD closure surgery cost in India is extremely economical as compared to Western nations like UK and US. Apart from that, IndianMedTrip assists international patients in availing their medical visas in the shortest possible time. Also, they keep in touch with each and every patient throughout their treatments as well as during their rehabilitation phase even when they go back to their domestic countries. In this way, IndianMedTrip leaves no stone unturned in making the medical journey of overseas patients a successful one. Therefore, overseas patients seeking best atrial septal defect treatment in India in a stress-free manner can completely rely on seamless services offered by IndianMedTrip.

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