Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Atrial Septal Defect
An atrial septal defect is an opening in the wall that separates
the upper chambers of the heart. It is one of the most common congenital heart
defects, which are structural problems that develop before a baby is born or at
When an atrial septal defect is present, some oxygen-rich blood
that should have been pumped to the body flows from one side of the heart to
the other. This blood is then pumped to the lungs. This creates extra work for
one side of the heart.
If an atrial septal defect is large, heart failure may occur,
although this is not common in children. Many children have no symptoms. So this defect may not be found until a child is older or becomes an adult.
A heart catheterization can typically be used to close the opening. This prevents blood from flowing between chambers.
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.