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Congenital Heart Problems


Septal Defects

Atrial septal defect (ASD)
A hole in the septum that separates the upper chambers of the heart.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
A hole in the septum that separates the lower chambers of the heart.

A congenital heart problem is a heart defect that you were born with.

It can cause symptoms at any point in your life.

Most often, congenital heart defects are holes between the chambers of the heart (septal defects) or involve the heart’s valves.

Most congenital heart defects can be repaired with surgery.

Septal defects
Septum is the Latin term for wall — in this case, the wall that separates the right and left chambers of the heart. A septal defect is a small hole in this wall.

All of us have holes in the septum of our hearts before we are born. In most cases, a flap grows over this hole at or shortly after birth, but not in every case.

If the hole has remained small, you may not have any symptoms. If the hole is larger, you may experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • shortness of breath 
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • palpitations 
  • swelling in your legs and feet

For More Information 

hand holding heart Learn more about congenital heart disease  
kid Your child & congenital heart disease 
quiz How do we live with congenital heart disease?

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