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A child's heart is formed within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. However, in some cases, the heart remains underdeveloped leading to structural and functional problems that might give rise to complications soon after birth or at a later stage in life. Congenital heart defect can affect the heart, heart valves, arteries and veins, thereby disrupting the normal flow of blood. You can find the best cardiologists for children in Pune who specialize in treating a vast range of congenital heart problems. One such problem is an atrial septal defect.

A human heart is divided into 4 chambers. The upper two chambers are known as the Atria and the lower chambers are known as ventricles. These are separated by a thin wall of tissue known as the septum. Atrial septal defect refers to a hole in the septum which is a result of birth malformation. As per the best paediatric cardiologist in Pune, the presence of this hole makes the blood flow from the left atrium to the right atrium, which naturally leads to an increase in the amount of blood flowing through the lungs.

If the condition is not treated promptly at can give rise to severe complications in adulthood which include pulmonary hypertension as well as congestive heart failure and atrial arrhythmia. Heart specialists in Pune usually recommend surgery or device closure to repair an atrial septal defect.

Symptoms that should not be overlooked

You will be surprised to know that a lot of children born with atrial septal defect do not show any signs and symptoms, and thesestart to show their traces later in life when you least expect them. The various signs and symptoms associated with atrial septal defect include:

  • Breathlessness, especially when you indulge in any physical activity
  • Fatigue and general body weakness
  • Swelling in the limbs
  • Palpitations
  • Arrhythmia
  • Stroke
  • Heart murmur

Types of an atrial septal defect

The 4 common types of atrial septal defect have been mentioned below:

  • Secundum - It is the most common type of ASD in which the hole is present in the middle of the septum
  • Primum – In this case, the hole is present at the lower part of the septum.
  • Sinus venosus – The condition is very rare and is marked by a hole in the upper part of the atrial septum.
  • Coronary sinus – It is a very rare condition marked by the absence of a wall between the coronary sinus and the left atrium.

Are there any risk factors?

Well yes, there are certain risk factors that have been found to be associated with the atrial septal defect. Studies suggest that the problem might be genetic. If the expecting mother has any of the following conditions during pregnancy, there are slightly elevated risks of the child developing atrial septal defect:

  • Rubella infection
  • Diabetes
  • Lupus

Excessive tobacco and drug abuse during pregnancy can also be the reason behind it.

Being pregnant with an atrial septal defect:

Majority of women with an atrial septal defect can have a normal pregnancy without any complications. However, the complications are directly proportional to the size of the hole i.e. the larger the hole, greater the complications. If either of the parents has the problem, it is quite likely to affect the baby as well. In such cases, it is very important to consult a doctor and explore your options.