Atrial Septal Defect

Overview of Atrial Septal Defect

Atrial Septal Defect Meaning in Urdu

یہ ایک پیدائشی بیماری ہے جس کی وجہ سے  نومولود کے دل کے پردے (سیپٹم) میں ایک سوراخ بن جاتا ہے۔ نومولود بچوں میں اس سوراخ کا سائز مختلف ہوتا ہے، کچھ بچوں میں یہ سوراخ خود بخود بند ہو جاتا ہے تو کئی بچوں میں اس کو بند کرنے کے لیے سرجری کی ضرورت ہوتی ہے۔ ابھی تک یہ وجوہات معلوم نہیں کی جا سکی ہیں کہ بچوں کے دل میں یہ سوراخ کیوں بنتا ہے۔ کچھ کیسز میں حمل کے دوران ہونے والے الٹرا ساؤنڈ کی مدد سے بچے کے دل میں سوراخ کا پتہ لگا لیا جاتا ہے، جب کہ کئی دفعہ کافی عرصہ گزرنے کے بعد اس کا پتہ چلتا ہے۔


Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital heart defect that affects the septum, or wall, between the heart’s upper chambers, known as the atria. The Congenital Heart Defect meaning suggests a hole or opening in the atrial septum that allows blood to flow between the two atria instead of through the lungs to get oxygenated. It can result in the mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood, which can cause various complications over time.

Prevalence of Atrial Septal Defect:

Globally, Atrial Septal Defects account for 10-15% of congenital heart diseases, with a birth prevalence of 1-2/1000 births.

Signs and Symptoms of Atrial Septal Defect

Atrial Septal Defect symptoms vary depending on the size and location of the defect, as well as the person’s age. 

Some people with ASD may have no symptoms at all, while others may experience:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise or activity
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Swelling in the legs, feet, or abdomen
  • Frequent respiratory infections or pneumonia
  • Stroke or other neurological symptoms (in rare cases)

Symptoms of ASD may develop slowly over time, and some people may not get diagnosed until later in life.

Types of Atrial Septal Defect

There are several Atrial Septal Defect types based on the location and size of the hole, as well as other factors. The most common types of ASD include:

  • Ostium Secundum ASD: It is the most common type of ASD, accounting for about 70% of all cases. It occurs in the center of the atrial septum, usually as a deficiency in the septum's middle portion.
  • Ostium Primum ASD: This type of ASD is less common and occurs lower down on the atrial septum. It is often associated with other congenital heart defects, such as mitral valve prolapse.
  • Sinus Venosus ASD: This type of ASD occurs near the junction of the superior vena cava and the right atrium. It is less common than secundum ASD and may be associated with anomalous pulmonary venous drainage.
  • Coronary Sinus ASD: This type of ASD is very rare and occurs near the opening of the coronary sinus into the right atrium.
  • Mixed ASD: This type of ASD involves more than one defect, such as a combination of secundum and primum ASDs.

ASD severity can vary depending on the size and location of the hole, as well as other factors.

Causes of Atrial Septal Defect

Atrial Septal Defect causes remain less understood, but they may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Here are some possible causes of ASDs:

  • Genetic factors: ASDs can run in families, indicating that genetic factors may play a role. Certain genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome, are associated with a higher risk of developing ASDs.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to certain environmental factors during pregnancy, such as alcohol or drugs, can increase the risk of developing ASDs.
  • Other congenital heart defects: ASDs may occur with other congenital heart defects, indicating that multiple factors may be involved.
  • Maternal age: Evidence suggests that older maternal age may be a risk factor for ASDs.
  • Unknown factors: In some cases, the cause of ASD remains unknown. 

It's worth noting that most cases of ASDs are not associated with any known risk factors, and the exact cause of the defect is often unknown.


Risk Factors of Atrial Septal Defect

While the exact cause of ASD is unknown, several Atrial Septal Defect risk factors have been identified:

  • Genetic factors: ASD can happen due to a genetic mutation or chromosomal abnormality. It is more common in families with a history of congenital heart defects.
  • Environmental factors: Certain environmental factors, such as exposure to drugs, alcohol, or toxins during pregnancy, may increase the risk of ASD.
  • Prematurity: Babies born prematurely are at a higher risk of developing ASD.
  • Age: ASD is more common in adults over the age of 40.
  • Sex: Females are more likely to have ASD than males.
  • Other heart defects: Some people with other heart defects, such as Tetralogy of Fallot or Eisenmenger's syndrome, may also have ASD.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Down Syndrome, may increase the risk of ASD.

It's important to note that many people with ASD have no known risk factors, and some people with risk factors may never develop the condition. 

Atrial Septal Defect Complications

The size and location of the defect can determine the severity of the condition and the potential complications that may arise. Here are some of the common Atrail septal Defect complications:

  • Right Heart Enlargement: An untreated ASD can cause the right side of the heart to work harder than normal, leading to enlargement of the right atrium and ventricle.
  • Pulmonary hypertension: Increased blood flow to the lungs due to the shunting of blood from the left to the right side of the heart can cause high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries (pulmonary hypertension), which can lead to breathing difficulties and heart failure.
  • Stroke: Atrial septal defect can cause blood clots to form in the heart, which can then travel to the brain, causing a stroke.
  • Arrhythmias: ASD can cause abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) due to increased blood flow to the atria.
  • Endocarditis: People with ASD are at an increased risk of developing endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart's inner lining.
  • Heart failure: Over time, the increased workload on the heart due to untreated ASD can lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.
  • Exercise intolerance: Children and adults with large ASDs may experience shortness of breath and fatigue during physical activity due to the heart's inability to pump enough oxygen-rich blood.

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of ASD can help prevent or reduce the risk of complications.



Since it is a congenital condition, it is not always preventable. However, some steps can reduce the risk of having a child with ASD:

  • Preconception Genetic Counseling: Couples who have a family history of congenital heart disease or who have had a child with a heart defect should consider preconception genetic counseling. Genetic testing can help identify if there is a risk of passing the defect on to the next generation.
  • Prenatal care: Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care, which includes routine ultrasounds to detect any heart defects in the developing fetus.
  • Avoiding Exposure to Toxins: Pregnant women should avoid exposure to substances that can harm the developing fetus, such as alcohol, tobacco, and certain medications.
  • Managing Chronic Health Conditions: Women with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or lupus, should work closely with their healthcare provider to manage their condition during pregnancy.
  • Folic Acid Supplementation: Women planning to become pregnant or who are pregnant should take folic acid supplements as recommended by their healthcare provider, as this can reduce the risk of certain congenital heart defects, including ASD.

It is important to note that even with these precautions, it is not always possible to prevent ASD. If a child is born with ASD, prompt medical intervention can help prevent complications and improve outcomes.



The following are the diagnostic procedures to diagnose ASD:

  • Physical Examination: A healthcare provider may be able to detect the presence of ASD by listening to your heart with a stethoscope. The presence of a heart murmur, which is an abnormal sound heard during the heartbeat, may indicate the presence of ASD.
  • Echocardiogram: The Echo Test is the most common test to diagnose ASD. It uses ultrasound waves to create images of the heart, which can show the abnormal opening in the atrial septum.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG measures the heart’s electrical activity. It can detect abnormal rhythms or electrical signals that may indicate the presence of ASD.
  • Chest X-ray: This test can show whether the heart is enlarged, which may be a sign of ASD.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: This is an invasive test that involves inserting a thin tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin and guiding it up to the heart. Contrast dye is injected into the catheter, which allows the healthcare provider to see the blood flow through the heart and detect the location and size of the ASD.
  • MRI or CT scan: CT Scan or MRI may be used to provide a more detailed view of the heart and the location and size of the ASD.

If ASD is diagnosed, treatment options may include medication, surgery, or catheter-based procedures to close the abnormal opening in the atrial septum.

Treatment of Atrial Septal Defect | When to Consult a Doctor

Atrial Septal Defect treatment depends on its size, location, and symptoms. Small ASDs that do not cause symptoms may not require any treatment, and the doctor may recommend monitoring the condition with regular checkups.

If the ASD is large or causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, or heart palpitations, the following treatment options may help:

  • Surgery: In some cases, open-heart surgery may be required to repair the defect. During the surgery, the surgeon will close the hole in the heart using a patch made of synthetic material or tissue from the patient's body.

  • Catheter-based Procedure: For some smaller ASDs, a minimally invasive catheter-based procedure called transcatheter closure may be an option. The doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a small incision in the groin and guide it to the heart. Then, a device is inserted through the catheter and used to close the hole in the heart.

  • Medications: Medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms such as heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, or high blood pressure.


It is important to note that the treatment plan for each patient with ASD will be tailored to their individual needs and condition. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a Cardiologist who can evaluate and recommend appropriate treatment options.