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What is an atrial septal defect?

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Atrial septal defect, or ASD, is a condition of the heart in which there is a malformation of the interatrial septum during the development of a baby in the womb, leading to the formation of a hole, according to MedlinePlus. It is a rare condition.

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The ASD can either be small or large in size, notes MedlinePlus. A smaller ASD is usually less than 5 millimeters and rarely causes any symptoms, especially at an early age. Depending on the size of the ASD, the symptoms may include breathing difficulty, shortness of breath while active and palpitations among the adults. Children may also experience frequent respiratory infection attacks. Additionally, ASD may result in complications such as heart failure, endocarditis, pulmonary hypertension and stroke, hence it is advisable for an individual to seek medical attention if he experiences the symptoms of ASD.

The ASD can be treated through surgery or a nonsurgical procedure, says MedlinePlus. Surgery is suitable for treating symptomatic ASDs or ASDs that cause heart inflammation. It is also applicable when the hole causes excessive shunting, which is the flow of blood between the two upper chambers of the heart. In the nonsurgical treatment, a doctor inserts an ASD closure equipment through catheters into the heart, cuts a small incision in the groin and runs the catheters into the heart via a blood vessel. Putting the closure device across the hole to seal the hole completes this process.

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