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Atrial Septal Defect How Is This Treated?

By October 8, 2009 - 10:02am
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I have a friend who was told she has a hole in her heart also know as atrial septal defect, how is this treated? They want her to have an MRI to check her brain to make sure she doesn't have any blockage that could cause a stroke. What else should she be concerned about.
Thank you!

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Hi Alison,
Thanks for the great information. I'm not sure when she'll have her MRI, I hope soon. The doc said she'd has this most of her life but just recently found out she had it. Yes, I'm close to her and a little of both - research and emotional support. She just turned 50 and overall is in great health, so this was a big surprise to her.
I'm going to pass along the information you included in your post to her so she can take a look at it as well.
Thanks again,

October 9, 2009 - 3:35pm

Great question--it's really thoughtful that you are doing research for your friend, and asking a lot of questions!

There are wonderful resources online about ASD (atrial septic defect), and the credible sources come from the American Heart Association (AHA), Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic. Google Health has the best image of what the ASD looks like, so will include this as well.

Basically, treatment options vary depending on age of onset of ASD, how big the opening is, as well as exact location. Larger ASD does require surgical repair, whereas a smaller ASD may not. There is no medication to "fix" this, but a non-surgical remedy is to repair the ASD by using a catheter to insert a device to "plug up" the opening.

Prognosis is very good on this treatment, and will be affected by other factors (again, age of patient, health status, size of opening, etc). Patients can expect to live a normal lifespan after treatment.

Online credible resources for more information:
- Cleveland Clinic: ASD
-American Heart Association (AHA): ASD
-Mayo Clinic: ASD
-Google Health (for image only; unsure about credibility of health information). Click on far right image titled, "Atrial Septic Defect"

We would love to talk with you more about your friend's condition, as well as the role you expect to play in her diagnosis, treatment and recovery. When will your friend have the MRI? What is her age, how long has she had this condition? Are you geographically close to your friend, or hoping to help her in other ways through online research and emotional support?

The answer to your last question: "what else should she be concerned about?" really depends on the factors I mentioned above; please let us know what you find out, and we can dive further into specifics. Generally speaking, there are many more risks and complications associated with ASD being untreated, which can include risk of stroke, heart failure, lung damage (all associated with blood flow due to opening in heart). Lastly, it looks as though the biggest risk factors in having ASD is if your friend becomes pregnant before her ASD can be treated.

Again, please feel free to ask us more questions, as you learn more about this condition.

October 8, 2009 - 11:56am
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