Hole In The Heart: Know The Diagnosis and Right Treatment

The heart is the powerhouse of the entire body, pumping blood into every cell of the body. Even the slightest problem in the heart can lead to significant repercussions resonating throughout the body. But what if a person is born with a defect in their heart, like a hole in the heart?

A Septal defect is a congenital condition, present in the person at the time of his birth. A hole in the heart is known to impede the natural working of a human heart by altering the blood flow inside the heart. How does it function and what treatments are available for filling up the hole? Here is an article that addresses the congenital condition of septal defects or hole in the heart.


The Heart and The Hole

A human heart has two chambers where the right chamber receives oxygen-deficient blood, which is then transferred to the lungs. The lungs transport oxygen-rich to the left chamber, which then sends it out to the rest of the body. The wall that divides these two chambers is called the septum, which prevents the mixing of blood between the two sides of the heart.

The chambers are then further divided into two parts each, where the upper one is called the atrium, and the lower one is called ventricle. This information is essential to understand the complications a hole in the heart can create.

 A small number of babies are born with a hole in the septum wall of their heart which allows the mixing of oxygen-poor and oxygen rich blood, sending oxygen-rich blood to the lungs, and oxygen-deficient blood to the body. As a result, children, and sometimes adults can develop dangerous conditions like shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in legs, feet, and abdomen, skipped beats, and stroke.

 When this hole happens in the upper septum wall, it is called an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), while when the hole is present in the lower septum wall, it is called a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD).

 Symptoms of a Hole in the Heart

In several cases of an Atrial Septal Defect, the symptoms are either not very evident or are physically absent. However, when they do occur, a heart 'murmur' is the most common symptom. Other symptoms include:

●       Fatigue

●       Short Breath

●       Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, and abdomen

●       A buildup of blood and fluid in the lungs, feet, ankles, and legs.

For Ventricular Septal Defect, a murmur is the only symptom of a hole in the heart.

 Diagnosis of Septal Defect

Symptoms, as mentioned above, are definite signs that there is something wrong with a person's heart. In many cases of ASD, the symptoms do not show up until the age of 30 as well. This delays the diagnosis process in most cases. In cases of a VSD, the heartbeat has a distinct murmur that is heard through the stethoscope but does not happen until the baby turns at least 6 to 8 weeks old. Here is how doctors diagnose a hole in the heart.

●       Echocardiography: A painless device that uses soundwaves to create an image of the heart.

●       EKG: A device that records the heart’s electrical activity.

●       Chest X-Ray: X-rays take pictures of the inside of a person’s body, revealing any kind of discrepancy.

●       Pulse Oximetry: It is a device that calculates the amount of oxygen in the blood.

●       Cardiac Catheterization: A small flexible tube is inserted into the veins through an arm, groin, or neck, and is then threaded to the heart. A dye is then added to the blood flow, which is monitored by the doctors for any abnormal flow.

 Treating the Hole in The Heart

Most of the septal defects do not actually require treatment as they heal on their own in childhood or well into adulthood. However, medium-sized and large holes do require treatment as they can be the cause of heart failure and other cardiac conditions. There are two kinds of treatments available:

Open Heart Surgery: The cardiologist opens up the chest cavity and repairs the cavity with a special patch. The child is kept on a heart and lung bypass surgery during the operation to allow cutting into their heart. The patient is discharged 3 to 4 days after the surgery.

Catheter Procedure: A catheter is entered through a vein in the groin and threaded up to the heart. Inside the catheter is an umbrella-like device which is placed onto the hole to block it up. The tissues grow over the device within 6 months, with no need to remove it as the child grows.


These procedures have a high rate of success and ensure that a child goes on to live a happy, active, and comfortable life. As far as the cause is concerned, doctors are not really sure what causes congenital heart defects. However, if there is any question that you need, then visit the best Dr. Himanshu Tyagi overlooking the Department of Paediatric Cardiology at Medipulse Hospital, Jodhpur.