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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Atrial Septal Defects
      Category : Health Centers > Heart Diseases

Atrial Septal Defects

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Atrial septal defect, ASD, is a congenital defect of the heart, or one present at birth. There is an abnormal opening in the wall that separates the two upper chambers of the heart.

What is going on in the body?

The heart has four chambers. The two upper chambers are called the atria. An ASD is a defect or hole in the wall between these chambers. The hole allows blood to flow abnormally between the chambers. ASD is a fairly common cause of congenital heart disease.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The exact cause of ASD is often unknown. The heart develops abnormally before the person is born. Some factors that increase the risk of ASD are:

  • alcohol ingested by the mother during her pregnancy
  • chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome or Turner''s syndrome
  • an infection, such as rubella, within the womb
  • medicines and drugs, such as retinoic acid, taken by the mother during pregnancy


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    Atrial Septal Defects: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eric Berlin, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/01/01

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