Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you find out you have a congenital heart defect, or you've had surgery to correct one, you may wonder about limitations on activities and other issues.

  • Exercise. Having an atrial septal defect usually doesn't restrict you from activities or exercise. If you have complications, such as heart failure or pulmonary hypertension, you may not be able to do some activities or exercises. Your cardiologist can help you learn what is safe.
  • Diet. A heart-healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables and whole grains — and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium — can help you keep your heart healthy. Eating one or two servings of fish a week also is beneficial.
  • Preventing infection. Some heart defects, and the repair of defects, create changes to the surface of the heart in which bacteria can become stuck and grow into an infection (infective endocarditis). Atrial septal defects generally aren't associated with infective endocarditis. But if you have other heart defects in addition to an atrial septal defect, or if you've recently had atrial septal defect repair, you may need to take antibiotics before certain dental or surgical procedures.
Dec. 14, 2011