Welcome Employees

A password is required to submit a request for an internal transfer. In order to obtain the password you can check any of the following resources: Login to the employee portal, check the current issue of "Regional High Points" newsletter, contact HR, or read this week's "Daily Announcements".

 

Close

Atrioventricular Septal Defect

(Atrioventricular Canal Defect; Endocardial Cushion Defect)

Pronounced: A-tree-o-ven-TREAH-q-lar sep-TAL DEE-fect

Definition

The heart is divided into four chambers that help circulate blood through the body. The top two chambers are called atria. The bottom two chambers are called ventricles. Two valves are between the upper and lower chambers. Tissue called the septum divides the chambers. The tissue grows as the fetus develops.

An atrioventricular septal defect is present at birth. It occurs when any of the tissues that divide the septum do not grow completely. This leaves one or more holes. It may also leave one leaky valve instead of two separate valves.

Causes    TOP

This condition is caused when the septal tissue fails to grow correctly as the fetus develops in the womb.

Ventricular Septal Defect

Ventral septal defect
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors    TOP

Risk factors that increase the chance that a baby will be born with a ventricular septal defect include:

  • A family history of heart defects
  • Down syndrome
  • Alcohol consumption or drug abuse by the mother during pregnancy
  • A mother with diabetes
  • Rubella infection during the first three months of pregnancy
  • Exposure to thalidomide, anticonvulsant medications, or lithium salts while in the womb
  • Exposure to certain industrial chemicals during pregnancy

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty feeding
  • Failing to gain weight
  • Lung congestion
  • Difficulty breathing, especially during feeding
  • Sweating
  • A bluish tint to lips and fingernails
  • Pale skin
  • Frequent pneumonia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swollen legs or abdomen—rare in children

Diagnosis    TOP

Your doctor will ask about your baby's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most types of congenital heart disease can be identified by listening for a heart murmur.

Your doctor may need pictures of your baby's heart. This can be done with a Chest x-ray.

Your doctor may need information about how your baby's heart functions. This can be done with:

Treatment    TOP

A doctor may recommend any of the following treatments for your baby:

  • Ongoing observation of the symptoms and the defect
  • Medicines to strengthen the heart, keep the heartbeat regular, or decrease the amount of fluid in circulation
  • Surgery in early childhood to close the hole
  • Antibiotics before and after surgery to reduce the risk of bacterial infections
  • A high calorie diet and/or breastfeeding to manage poor weight gain
  • Limited physical activity depending on the severity of the defect
  • Counseling to help you adjust to your baby's diagnosis and treatment
  • A pacemaker to regulate the heart

Prevention    TOP

It may not be possible to prevent the condition because the exact cause is unknown. A septal defect can be identified, watched, and treated early in pregnancy and childhood:

  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, seek early and regular prenatal care, get exercise, and eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
  • Avoid drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol.
  • A prenatal ultrasound when the fetus is 10-14 weeks old will identify many babies with heart defects.
  • If you have a child with this defect, consult a genetics counselor to find out if your future children are also at risk.

12 Week Fetus

12 week fetus
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

RESOURCES:

American Association of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Adult Congenital Heart Network
http://www.cachnet.org
Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation
http://www.heartandstroke.com

References:

Atrioventricular septal defect, complete. Cove Point Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed July 11, 2013.
Patent foramen ovale and other atrial septal defects. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed July 11, 2013.
Saenz R, Beebe D, Triplett L. Caring for infants with congenital heart disease and their families. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 11, 2013.
Ventricular septal defect. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed July 11, 2013.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO; Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013