Many babies born with atrial septal defects don't have associated signs or symptoms. In adults, signs or symptoms usually begin by age 30, but in some cases signs and symptoms may not occur until decades later.

Atrial septal defect symptoms may include:

  • Heart murmur, a whooshing sound that can be heard through a stethoscope
  • Shortness of breath, especially when exercising
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of legs, feet or abdomen
  • Heart palpitations or skipped beats
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Stroke
  • Bluish skin color

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor if you or your child has any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Bluish discoloration of the skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tires easily, especially after activity
  • Swelling of legs, feet or abdomen
  • Heart palpitations or skipped beats

These could be symptoms of heart failure or another complication of congenital heart disease.

Dec. 14, 2011