A small ventricular septal defect may never cause any problems. Medium or large defects can cause a range of disabilities — from mild to life-threatening. Treatment can prevent many complications.

  • Pulmonary hypertension. Increased blood flow to the lungs due to the VSD causes high blood pressure in the lung arteries (pulmonary hypertension), which can permanently damage them. This complication can cause reversal of blood flow through the hole (Eisenmenger syndrome).
  • Endocarditis. This heart infection is an uncommon complication.
  • Other heart problems. These include abnormal heart rhythms and valve problems.

Ventricular septal defect and pregnancy

Having a repaired VSD without complications or having a small defect doesn't pose an additional pregnancy risk. However, having an unrepaired, larger defect; heart failure; pulmonary hypertension; or other heart defects poses a high risk to both mother and fetus. Doctors strongly advise women with Eisenmenger syndrome not to become pregnant because of the high risk of complications.

Any woman with a congenital heart defect, repaired or not, who is considering pregnancy should talk with a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions (cardiologist). This is especially important if you're taking medications. It's also important to see both an obstetrician and a cardiologist during pregnancy.

Nov. 04, 2014