What Do We Mean By Having A Hole In The Heart?

A hole in the heart is a common congenital heart defect which occurs due to some structural defects in the heart during fetal development. A hole in the heart changes the way the blood flows through the heart. Anatomically speaking, the heart is divided into two parts, the left side and the right side. The left side of the heart pumps deoxygenated blood to the lungs whereas the right side of the heart pumps the oxygenated blood to the rest of the body for normal functioning with each heartbeat. These two sides are divided by a wall called septum. The function of the septum is to prevent intermixing of the deoxygenated and the oxygenated blood.

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A hole in the heart occurs when there is an opening in this septum which allows the oxygenated and the deoxygenated blood to mix and some part of the oxygenated blood gets pumped into the lungs.

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If the hole in the heart is in the upper two chambers of the heart then the defect is called as atrioseptal defect while if the hole is in the lower two chambers of the heart then the defect is called as ventriculoseptal defect.

In many cases, holes in the heart close by themselves during infancy, although there are cases where children have required surgery to close the defect. This article gives an overview of what happens if you have a hole in your heart.

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What Happens If You Have A Hole In Your Heart?

What happens if you have a hole in your heart depends on where the hole is present and the size of the hole.

Small Atrioseptal Defects: In cases where the hole is present in the upper two chambers of the heart and is small then in most cases it will close by itself. If it does not close, then there are chances that it may lead to blood clots from other parts of the body enter into the heart and cause a stroke much later in life.

Large Atrioseptal Defects: This is quite a rare phenomenon but when this occurs the blood is shifted from the left atrium to the right side thus overloading it. This may result in heart failure and extremely high pressure in the blood vessels of the lung. The individual may experience difficulty breathing, swelling of the lower extremities, and arrhythmias as a result of this defect.

Ventriculoseptal Defects: In case if the hole is in the lower two chambers of the heart then it may lead to heart failure early in infancy. It may also result in right heart failure as time passes and the holes get bigger.

Atrioseptal and Ventriculoseptal Defects: These cases are also quite rare and the intermixing of blood may cause cyanosis of the skin especially in the lips and the nail beds. The infant may also have heart murmur. Fluid overload in the lungs may also be a problem arising due to this defect. Such cases require surgical correction to close the holes in the heart.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: March 10, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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