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How do you treat a ventricular septal defect?

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While some ventricular septal defects, or holes in the heart, close on their own, doctors may prescribe medication to treat symptoms, or recommend surgery for people with larger defects or defects in areas of the heart that may cause further damage, notes Mayo Clinic. Babies with ventricular septal defects may need extra nutrition, sometimes via tube feeding.

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If babies have serious ventricular septal defects or the holes are in locations that may cause further harm, doctors often recommend surgery within the first year, states Mayo Clinic. Doctors may prescribe medications to increase the strength of heart contractions, diuretics to decrease fluid circulating through the body and into the lungs, and drugs such as beta blockers to help patients maintain regular heartbeats.

Doctors sometimes correct ventricular septal defects with surgery, including surgical repair, catheter procedures and hybrid procedures, according to Mayo Clinic. During surgical repair, doctors perform open-heart surgery and use patches or stitches to close the defect. During catheter procedures, doctors insert a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin, move it to the heart, and use it to help place a mesh device over the hole in the heart. During hybrid procedures, doctors make small incisions in the chest and close the defect via a catheter.

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