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Symptoms of Atrioventricular Septal Defect

Atrioventricular (AV) septal defects range from small to large. Small defects might cause only mild symptoms. It depends on how much blood is moving between the heart’s chambers is a way that is not normal.

AV septal defects can cause symptoms such as these:

  • Fast breathing
  • Shortness of breath or working hard to breathe when feeding
  • Arrhythmia
  • Sweating, particularly with feeding in infants
  • Failure to thrive
  • Trouble exercising
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations

Most children with AV septal defect have symptoms early in life, within the first several weeks after birth. Rarely, some may develop symptoms later in childhood.

If not repaired, AV septal defect can lead to serious health problems, like high blood pressure in the lungs and heart failure.

Atrioventricular Septal Defect Diagnosis

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will examine your child, check their heartbeat and listen to their heart. In children with AV septal defect, doctors can often hear a heart murmur — the sound of blood moving in the heart in a way that’s not normal.

The doctor will ask for details about any symptoms your child has, their health history and your family health history.

Your child will most likely need echocardiography, an electrocardiogram and chest X-rays.

They may need other tests that provide more information about how their heart looks and works. These might include an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the heart and cardiac catheterization.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

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Download Summer 2014 (PDF)