Hole in the Heart: A reason to worry?

September 12, 2017 Heart Diseases 10859 Views


A hole in the heart is a big problem for the parents of the newborn baby with this congenital defect. As a matter of fact, a hole in the heart is not necessarily an issue of serious concern. This is because, in most of the cases, the hole closes by itself as the child attains adulthood. In fact, many people are not even aware that their heart has a hole!

However, one shouldn’t simply ignore the fact that there are quite many possible causes and depending on the severity of the case the consequences, the consequences may vary and accordingly, treatment may be required.

Causes of the hole in the heart

Congenital heart defects can broadly be classified into two types. These two types depending on the location of the hole in the heart chambers. If the hole is in the septum that separates heart’s upper chambers, it is termed as Atrial Septal Defect or ASD while the one present in the septum between the lower chambers of the heart is called Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD.

The researchers are still hunting for the root causes, but studies have thrown light on the possible one. Some of them are as follows:

  • Genetics – Studies have suggested that congenital heart defects do get transferred from parents to the offspring. A parent with a congenital heart defect is more likely to give birth to a child with a similar problem. Apart from this, there are certain chromosomal alterations and mutations at the genetic level. Which doctors think are the culprits.
  • Down’s syndrome – Children with Down’s syndrome often have a hole in their heart.
  • Pregnancy period related causes – A mother who has rubella infection, poorly controlled diabetes or hasn’t controlled smoking during pregnancy are known to have children with a congenital heart defect.

Living with the holes

The presence of the ASDs and VSDs cause fatigue, excessive sweat, trouble breathing and alters the rate of heartbeats. These symptoms appear because the holes allow the mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood in the heart, which was earlier separated through a septum. As a result, instead of pumping oxygen-rich blood to the body, the heart pumps it back to the lungs, thereby altering the distribution of oxygen and nutrients to the body.

What can be done?

A hole in the heart do not usually require treatment. Because, about 50 percent of them close on their own over time, mostly within the first year of life. For those, whose holes do not close on their own, surgical and catheter procedures are done.

Similarly, for VSDs, there’s not much need of stressing up as the holes close by their own. But if the regular check-ups reveal that the problem is getting serious, the doctor suggests extra nutrition and rarely, surgical or catheter procedures to treat the same.

 Is it a reason to worry?

Congenital heart defects like a hole in the heart are common. But they aren’t always worth stressing for. It is a smart option to get the routine check-ups done. Depending on the size of the hole and the progress that the hole is making (either in going worse or getting better), the doctor may suggest the best possible option. However, even if the hole is getting broader, there are effective treatment options that can eliminate the problem to a great extent. So, it’s never a reason to worry! All it takes is regular monitoring, some basic precautions and few changes in the lifestyle.

Want to learn more about a hole in the heart? Reach out to the nearest cardiologist today!

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