An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of your heart. The condition is present from birth (congenital). Smaller atrial septal defects may close on their own during infancy or early childhood.

Large and long-standing atrial septal defects can damage your heart and lungs. An adult who has had an undetected atrial septal defect for decades may have a shortened life span from heart failure or high blood pressure in the lungs. Surgery is often necessary to repair atrial septal defects to prevent complications.

Dec. 14, 2011