Atrial Septal Defects
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