Atrial and ventricular septal defects are more common than you may realize, affecting nearly two out of every 1,000 babies. Though it’s a congenital heart condition, it often persists into adulthood. At NJ Heart & Vascular Care in Princeton and Hamilton, New Jersey, board-certified cardiologist Kintur Sanghvi, MD, FACC, FSCAI, specializes in atrial and ventricular septal defect repair using a minimally invasive technique rather than open surgery. To learn more about this condition and the importance of treatment, call or book an appointment online today.
An atrial septal defect is a hole in the wall between the atria, which are the two upper chambers of your heart. The hole occurs when fetal tissues fail to develop properly. As a result, the baby is born with a hole in the heart wall, and the condition is considered to be a congenital heart defect.
Don’t confuse an atrial septal defect with another natural hole in the heart called the foramen ovale. Before they’re born, all babies have a foramen ovale between the two atria.
After delivery, the hole normally closes. If it doesn’t close, the condition is called patent foramen ovale.
A small atrial septal defect may close on its own before adulthood. But a moderate or large hole won’t close. As you get older, that can lead to problems.
When blood flows through the hole, it doesn’t go down into the lower chamber where it’s pumped out to your body. Instead, oxygen-rich blood ends up going back to the lungs.
If you don’t have symptoms, your doctor may hear a heart murmur during an annual exam. When symptoms appear, you may have:
Without treatment, an atrial septal defect can damage the arteries in your lungs. An ongoing defect also increases your risk of stroke, heart failure, and pulmonary hypertension.
Many cardiac surgeons still repair septal defects using open-heart surgery. Dr. Sanghvi has extensive experience and is highly skilled at repairing atrial septal defects using minimally invasive procedures.
During a minimally invasive atrial septal defect repair, Dr. Sanghvi makes a small incision in your groin, inserts a catheter, and threads it through the blood vessels to your heart.
After using the catheter to take blood samples and measure pressure, Dr. Sanghvi injects a dye that highlights the defect. This allows him to measure the defect and choose the size of the patch that’s used to cover the hole.
If the hole is much larger than expected, you may not be able to have a patch. Instead, it must be stitched together.
If you have symptoms like fatigue or irregular heartbeats, you may have an atrial septal defect. For expert treatment, call NJ Heart & Vascular Care or book an appointment online today.