Heart and Blood Conditions

Atrial Septal Defect Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Atrial Septal Defect

A small atrial septal defect (ASD) may cause no symptoms at all until later in childhood or adulthood.

A larger defect may cause symptoms soon after birth, such as:

  • Feeling tired quickly when playing
  • Breathing fast
  • Having to work hard to breathe (shortness of breath)
  • Having abnormal heartbeats
  • Feeding problems
  • Poor weight gain
  • Frequent lung (respiratory) infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis

Large defects that aren’t treated can increase the risk for certain heart or blood problems later in life, such as heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).

Atrial Septal Defect Diagnosis

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will examine your child, check their heartbeat and use a stethoscope to listen to their heart. In children with ASD, doctors can often hear an abnormal heart sound or heart murmur — a noise caused by the flow of blood through the opening from the left side of the heart to the right. The doctor will ask for details about your child’s symptoms, their health history and your family health history.

The doctor will then ask for diagnostic tests such as a chest X-ray, echocardiogram or electrocardiogram.

Your child may need other tests that provide more information about the ASD, size of the heart or blood vessel connections to the heart. These tests may include cardiac catheterization or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.