Complications of atrioventricular canal defect can include:

  • Enlargement of the heart. Increased blood flow through the heart forces it to work harder than normal, causing it to enlarge.
  • Pulmonary hypertension. When the heart's left ventricle weakens and can't pump out enough blood, pressure builds and backs up through blood vessels in the lungs, causing high blood pressure in the lungs.
  • Respiratory tract infections. Atrioventricular canal defect can cause recurrent bouts of lung infections.
  • Heart failure. Untreated, atrioventricular canal defect usually results in the heart's inability to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

Complications later in life

Treatment greatly improves the outlook for children with atrioventricular canal defect. However, some children who have corrective surgery may still be at risk later in life of:

  • Leaky heart valves
  • Narrowing of the heart valves
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Breathing difficulties associated with lung damage

Common signs and symptoms of these complications include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeat

Additional surgery might be needed to correct complications of atrioventricular canal defect.

Aug. 14, 2015