Living with Holes in the Heart
The outlook for children who have atrial septal defects (ASDs) or ventricular septal defects (VSDs) is excellent. Advances in treatment allow most children who have these heart defects to live normal, active, and productive lives with no decrease in lifespan.
Many children who have these defects need no special care or only occasional checkups with a cardiologist (a heart specialist) as they go through life.
Living with an Atrial Septal Defect
Small ASDs often close on their own and don't cause complications or require treatment. Children and adults who have small ASDs that don't close and don't cause symptoms are healthy and don't need treatment.
Many others who have ASDs that don't close have catheter procedures or surgery to close the holes and prevent possible long-term complications. Children recover well from these procedures and lead normal, healthy lives. Adults also do well after closure procedures.
Arrhythmias - The risk of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) increases before and after surgery. Adults who have ASDs and are older than 40 are especially likely to have arrhythmias. People who had arrhythmias before surgery are more likely to have them after surgery.
Follow up care - Regular followup care into adult life is advised for people who have had:
Antibiotics - Children who have severe heart defects may be at slightly increased risk for infective endocarditis (IE). IE is a serious infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers and valves.
ASDs aren't associated with a risk of IE, except in the 6 months after repair (for both catheter procedures and surgery).
In a few situations, your child's doctor or dentist may give your child antibiotics before medical or dental procedures (such as surgery or dental cleanings) that could allow bacteria into the bloodstream. Your child's doctor will tell you whether your child needs to take antibiotics before such procedures.
To reduce the risk of IE, gently brush your young child's teeth every day as soon as they begin to come in. As your child gets older, make sure he or she brushes every day and sees a dentist regularly. Talk with your child's doctor and dentist about how to keep your child's mouth and teeth healthy.
Special Considerations for Children and Teens
Image source: Getty