What is an atrial septal defect?
There are several types of atrial septal defects (ASD’s) which are differentiated from each other by which structures of the heart are involved. These are congenital defects (from birth) which are often corrected in infancy if necessary depending on symptoms and the type. The most common type, ostium secundum or patent foramen ovale (PFO) are often asymptomatic and may be diagnosed incidentally on echocardiography. If symptoms develop, they usually occur by 40 years of age and include fatigue, palpitations, and syncope. If lesion is large and goes untreated complications such as pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, and stroke (paradoxical embolism) may occur.