ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
A small atrial septal defect may never cause any problems. Small atrial septal defects often close during infancy.
Larger defects can cause mild to life-threatening problems, including:
- Right-sided heart failure
- Heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias)
- Increased risk of a stroke
Less common serious complications may include:
- Pulmonary hypertension. If a large atrial septal defect goes untreated, increased blood flow to your lungs increases the blood pressure in the lung arteries (pulmonary hypertension).
- Eisenmenger syndrome. In rare cases, pulmonary hypertension can cause permanent lung damage. This complication, called Eisenmenger syndrome, usually develops over many years and occurs only in a small percentage of people with large atrial septal defects.
Treatment can prevent or help manage many of these complications.
Atrial septal defect and pregnancy
Most women with an atrial septal defect can tolerate pregnancy without any problems. However, having a larger defect or having complications such as heart failure, arrhythmias or pulmonary hypertension can increase your risk of complications during pregnancy. Doctors strongly advise women with Eisenmenger syndrome not to become pregnant because it can endanger their lives.
The risk of congenital heart disease is higher for children of parents with congenital heart disease, whether in the father or the mother. Anyone with a congenital heart defect, repaired or not, who is considering starting a family should carefully discuss it beforehand with a doctor. Some medications may need to be stopped or adjusted before you become pregnant because they can cause serious problems for a developing fetus.
March 07, 2017
- What are holes in heart? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/holes/. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- Facts about atrial septal defect. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/atrialseptaldefect.html. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- Atrial septal defect (ASD). The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies/atrial_septal_defect_asd.html?qt=atrial%20septal%20defect&alt=sh. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- St. John Sutton MG. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of atrial septal defects in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- Vick GW, et al. Classification of atrial septal defects (ASDs), and clinical features and diagnosis of isolated ASDs in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- Congenital heart defects and CCHD. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.org/baby/congenital-heart-defects.aspx. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- Connolly HM. Management of atrial septal defects in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 18, 2014.
- Connolly HM. Medical management of Eisenmenger syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- St. John Sutton MG. Identification and assessment of atrial septal defects in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 19, 2014.
- Vick GW, et al. Management and outcome of isolated atrial septal defects in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 27, 2014.
- The American Heart Association's diet and lifestyle recommendations. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 23, 2014.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Accessed July 10, 2014.
- Mankad R (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 10, 2014.