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Ventricular Septal Defect

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) is the most common congenital heart condition. To understand VSD, it is important to understand the anatomy of the heart. The human heart consists of 4 chambers: 2 upper ones called ATRIA and 2 lower ones called VENTRICLES. The atria and the ventricles are separated from each other by a septum called the AV septum. The 2 atria are divided into a left and right atrium via atrial septum and the 2 ventricles are divided into left and right ventricles via a ventricular septum.

The blood from the body flows to the right side of the heart i.e. from right atria to right ventricles from where it goes to the lungs. In the lungs, the gas exchange occurs i.e. carbon dioxide is exchanged for oxygen. This oxygenated blood comes back to the left side of the heart, entering the left atria to left ventricle to the entire body.

In ventricular septal defect, the septum separating the left and the right ventricle is not formed properly (during development) leading to mixing of blood from right and left ventricles i.e. mixing of carbon dioxide rich blood with the oxygen rich blood that is distributed in the body.

What are the types of VSD?

Depending on the size of defect in the ventricular septum; the VSD's are differentiated into -small, medium and large VSD.

Small VSD

Generally no problem; may even self-resolve. The doctor, however, checks the defect regularly till closure. A small VSD may be present in childhood or adulthood or may be discovered incidentally.

Medium/Large VSD

These are present with symptoms at or after a few hours, after a few days, or even after a few months of birth. Generally, these require surgical repair.

What are the risk factors?

VSDs run in families and can also be associated with other genetic conditions such as Down syndrome. Having a sibling with a heart disease also increases the risk.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Diagnosis

  1. Can be diagnosed in a prenatal ultrasound.
  2. ECHO - helps to determine the size, location, and severity of the VSD.
  3. ECG - helps to identify abnormal rhythms.
  4. Cardiac Catheterization- involves passing a catheter tube from the arm or groin to the heart. This helps to understand the functioning of heart valves and chambers.
  5. Pulse Oximeter - helps to determine body oxygen saturation.

Prognosis

Patients with small VSD have a good prognosis as the VSD self resolves or may even go undetected. Patients with medium/large VSD live a healthy life after surgical repair.

Prevention

Although not much can be done to prevent the occurrence of VSD, the following measures can help to decrease the chances of a VSD.

Pregnant

Nutrition

Children suffering from VSD are generally malnourished. This is because of:

To overcome this problem of malnutrition:

What should I ask my doctor?

  1. How large is the defect?
  2. What tests are required?
  3. What are the causes?
  4. What treatment is recommended?
  5. How often should I schedule follow ups?
  6. What signs and symptoms should I look out for?
  7. What is the long-term outlook for this condition?
  8. Any special needs and nutritional requirements?

Disclaimer- This is not medical advice, please consult a doctor.

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