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Symptoms of Atrial Septal Defect

A small atrial septal defect (ASD) may cause no symptoms at all or none until later in childhood or adulthood.

A larger defect may cause symptoms soon after birth. Children may have symptoms such as tiring easily when playing, breathing fast, having to work hard to breathe (shortness of breath), or having abnormal heartbeats. Babies may have feeding problems, poor weight gain or frequent respiratory infections.

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 a 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-rays, 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).

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

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Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

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Download Spring 2014 (PDF)