Slide show: Common types of congenital heart defects
Illustration showing a heart with ventricular septal defect
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Sometimes called a hole in the heart, this defect — the most common congenital heart defect — occurs when the muscular wall (septum) separating the bottom chambers of the heart (right and left ventricles) doesn't fully form. The hole allows oxygen-rich blood to leak from the left ventricle into the right ventricle, instead of moving into the aorta and on to the body. In the right ventricle, the oxygen-rich blood mixes with blood that doesn't have enough oxygen in it.

Ventricular septal defect can lead to heart failure, high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), infection of the heart (endocarditis), irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and delayed growth. Small holes may heal on their own or cause no symptoms. Larger holes may require surgery to stitch the hole closed or to cover the hole with a patch.

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