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Cardiac » Cardiac Surgery

Ventricular Septal Defect- Things to Know

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The lower chambers of your heart are called ventricles. When you are born with a hole in the muscular wall(septum) that divides these two ventricles, you have a ventricular septal defect.

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Also known as VSD, this congenital abnormality has many kinds, and it can coexist with other types of heart defects.

How Does Ventricular Septal Defect Affect Your Body?

In a normal heart, the left portion pumps oxygenated blood out to the body while the right one pumps the deoxygenated blood to the lungs. With the hole between the lower two chambers, oxygen-laden and oxygen-less blood get mixed.

Extra blood can flow into the right ventricle and thus to the lungs, making the respiratory system and the heart work extra hard. It may also congest the lungs. The mixing of blood, however, only happens when the hole is large.

A small opening between the two ventricles won’t let much blood pass to the right ventricle. Your heart and lungs would work at standard rates, and there’ll be no symptoms either. 

Symptoms of Ventricular Septal Defect

In the case of a large opening, you’d breathe harder. High blood pressure maintained over time could damage the lung blood vessels as well. Pale skin, short or rapid breath, frequent respiratory infections, a bluish tint to your skin color, fingernails, and lips are also common symptoms of VSD.

If an infant has this defect, they could have trouble feeding. They may gain weight, and sweat while feeding. However, their growth remains otherwise normal, and the symptoms only show after they grow to a few weeks old.

How Can You Deal with VSD in a Newborn?

Surgery seems the best option in the case of a heart defect. However, if the hole is small and isn’t creating many problems for the lungs and the heart, the doctors let it be. Tiny VSDs close with time without any effort, medicine, or treatment.

It’s the case of a large hole in the heart that poses life-threatening consequences. Open-heart surgery is often the first choice of treatment. It’s attempted as early as possible because VSD could have severe symptoms in the first few days of a newborn’s life.

Open heart surgery is often preferred in small children and infants because the operation gets more complicated with age. If a baby suffers from more than one type of VSD, additional surgeries could be performed to relieve symptoms and fix lung problems rising from VSD.

What's the Future of a VSD Affected Child?

The pediatric cardiologist is responsible for keeping an eye on the child and conduct periodic tests to evaluate the section of the heart where the VSD was located. Complications like an aortic valve leak could arise anytime, thus justifying the need for regular monitoring.

Often, additional medicines or treatments aren’t required for a VSD affected kid. Their lifespans are more or less standard. However, a small section of patients has developed aortic or tricuspid heart valve problems or side effects like pulmonary hypertension.

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