Approximately 10% of present infant mortality in India is attributable to congenital heart diseases alone.
Atrial septal defect(ASD) is a form of a congenital heart defect, interrupting the blood flow pattern between the two compartments of the heart called the left and right atria. The atrias are separated by a septum called the interatrial septum, and if defective or absent; it causes oxygen-rich blood to flow directly from the left side of the heart into the oxygen-poor blood in the right side of the heart. This results in supplying lower-than-normal oxygen through the blood stream to the entire body, there by affecting all vital organs.
There are several types of atrial septal defects, each differentiated from the other based on the structure of the heart, patient’s age, genetic factors and patient’s lifestyles. However, the most common type of ASD is called ostium secundum atrial septal defect, comprising of 6–10% of all congenital heart diseases.
Many babies born with atrial septal defects don’t have associated signs or symptoms.In adults, signs or symptoms usually begin by age 30, but in some cases, signs and symptoms may not occur until later stages.Atrial septal defect signs and symptoms may include shortness of breath, especially when exercising, fatigue, swelling of legs, feet or abdomen, heart palpitations or skipped beats, frequent lung infections, stroke and heart murmurs.
ASD is caused due to several reasons which include smoking, stress, high BP, unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles. In most cases, the patient is born with this defect and such factors only worsen their condition.
Special treatment is not required if there are few or no symptoms or if the defect is small and is not associated with other complications. An expert cardiologist can check how large and severe theASD is, through a range of tests such as physical examinations, echo-cardiograms, cardiac cauterizations, ECG, Doppler study of the heart or a heart MRI. Initially doctors diagnose abnormal heart sounds or murmurs using a stethoscope.
Once a patient is diagnosed with an atrial septal defect, the doctor analyzes its best corrective method. Dr. Shetty of Narayana Hrudayala, mentions that certain crucial factors such as the size and position of the hole, as well as the patient’s age and health condition, are taken into account to make the best decision. If the size of the hole is relatively small, then patients are subscribed oral medications to help it close.
On the other hand, if the size of the hole is dangerously large or if it is located in a critical spot, either surgery or catheter intervention might be required.There are a variety of small devices that can be inserted into the patient’s heart through the femoral vein to close small holes .
Although both options are harmless, the latter seems to be gaining more popularity amongst heart patients due to its quick and painless procedure and reduced patient recovery time.