Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
What is a ventricular septal defect?
A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the heart that occurs in the septum, the wall that separates the lower chambers of the heart. When this occurs, blood passes between the right and left side of the heart and results in oxygen-rich blood returning to the lungs, which in turn makes the heart work harder.
It can be present at birth, or can occur in adulthood, usually after a heart attack or as a result of a complication in heart surgery.
Some VSDs are small and in time will close on their own, whereas medium and large VSDs will require treatment to prevent complications.
What are the symptoms of a ventricular septal defect?
Symptoms of VSD tend to develop in the first few days, weeks or months of a baby's life. They may include a lack of appetite, poor eating, breathlessness or fast breathing, lethargy and tiring easily.
In children and adults, the same symptoms may apply, including breathlessness following exertion, heart murmurs and not gaining weight (as a growing child).
What assessment do I need if I have a ventricular septal defect?
If a heart murmur is detected and VSD is suspected, then an echocardiogram will be used to image the heart. A CTCA and/or MRI scan may also be used.
What are the treatments for a ventricular septal defect?
Many babies born with VSD will not require corrective surgery to close the hole, and medication may be used to manage the symptoms until the hole closes on its own. In both babies and adults surgical repair may be necessary.
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