Skip to content
Heart and Vascular Care

Atrial Septal Defect

What is an Atrial Septal Defect?

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital heart defect that allows blood to pass between the left and right atria via the interatrial septum. When this septum is missing or defective, venous blood and arterial oxygen-rich blood can mix and be pushed throughout the body with less oxygen than is needed. One specific type of ASD is patent foramen ovale (PFO).

Symptoms of Atrial Septal Defect

When no other congenital defect coexists, symptoms of an ASD may be absent, particularly in children. It may be discovered during a routine physical and confirmed with an echocardiogram. For most other patients, symptoms typically appear by age 30. They usually involve fatigue and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include:

  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Sensation of feeling heart beat

With a small-to-moderate ASD, a person may live a normal life span without symptoms. Larger defects may cause disability by middle age because of increased blood flow and shunting of blood back into the pulmonary circulation.

If left untreated, an ASD can result in heart failure or stroke. Individuals with an ASD also may develop complications including infection of the heart, heart failure and an abnormally fast heart rhythm. Health Library: Atrial Septal Defect
Atrial Septal Defect  

How is Atrial Septal Defect Treated at TriHealth?

Small atrial septal defects in otherwise healthy patients can go untreated. Commonly the PFO will be repaired via surgery, but newer catheter-based options are now available. Treatments for atrial septal defects include:

Cardiac Surgery

Our cardiac specialists perform over 650 heart surgeries every year, including procedures performed using minimally invasive techniques. 

Structural Heart Repairs

Our interventional cardiologists boast a 100 percent success rate on catheter-based closure of a patent foramen ovale (PFO).

TriHealth Heart and Vascular Institute
Call 513 246 2400