The medical term for a heart hole is an atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect. The hole increases the amount of blood flowing through the lungs. It belongs to the category of congenital heart defects and is often found by chance. Before you understand the hole in heart treatment, you need to know its symptoms, causes, and more.
Babies are often born with a hole in the heart but show no symptoms. Sometimes the hole closes during early childhood or infancy. But if the hole stays for the long term, it can start showing symptoms. The symptoms of individuals with a hole in the heart begin during adulthood.
Some common symptoms are as follows:
● Shortness of breath, especially while exercising or doing any other physical activities
● Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats
● Rapid, pounding heartbeats (palpitations) or skipped beats
● Heart murmur or a whooshing sound that you can hear through a stethoscope
● Swelling of the abdomen, legs, or feet
Some causes behind babies being born with a hole in the heart are as follows:
● Genetic Disorder: Parents with congenital heart disease are more likely to pass it on to their children. But not all children born from at least one parent with a congenital heart disorder need to also suffer from it.
● Hereditary Disorder: Hereditary disorders like Down syndrome often increase the risk of children being born with a heart defect.
● Smoking: Women who smoke during pregnancy are likelier to give birth to a child with a hole in the heart.
The use of certain medications and environmental factors can also lead to the birth of babies with a hole in the heart.
Some risk factors that can increase the chance of a baby being born with a hole in the heart are as follows:
● German measles or rubella infection during the first few months of pregnancy
● Illegal drug use like cocaine
● Alcohol and tobacco
● Anti-seizure medications
● Medications to treat mood disorders
Small atrial septal defects are usually not a concern because they often close during infancy. But larger atrial septal defects can lead to serious issues like the following:
● Right-sided heart failure
● Pulmonary hypertension or increased blood pressure in the lung arteries
● Irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias
● Early death
Hole-in-heart treatment usually depends on the size of the hole and whether the person has other congenital heart defects. Some treatment options for an atrial or ventricular septal defect are as follows:
Medicines can’t repair a hole in the heart. But they are prescribed to deal with symptoms associated with a hole in the heart. Some medicines that can help treat hole-in-the-heart symptoms include the following:
● Beta-blockers to control the heartbeat
● Anticoagulants to prevent the risk of blood clots
Surgical procedures to close a hole in the heart of adults and children are as follows:
● Catheter-Based Repair: A flexible and thin tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, usually in the groin. The tube is guided to the heart by leveraging different imaging techniques. A mesh patch gets passed through the catheter to close the hole. The heart tissue grows around the seal and permanently closes the hole.
● Open Heart Surgery: Opening a hole in the heart involves making an incision through the chest wall to access the heart directly. Surgeons use patches to close the hole in the heart. Sometimes a hole can be closed through minimally-invasive surgery and robot-assisted surgery.
Individuals undergoing surgery to close a hole in their heart need to undergo regular echocardiograms. They should also go for regular checkups to look for issues like heart valve problems, arrhythmias, pulmonary hypertension, and heart failure.
People who don’t undergo surgery to close this hole in their heart have worse outcomes in the long run. Their functional capacity reduces as they struggle with performing day-to-day activities. They are also at higher risk of pulmonary hypertension and arrhythmias.
Patients with holes in their hearts should consult the best heart surgeons to get the best treatment. The heart surgeons at Max Healthcare are the best for undergoing surgery to close a hole in the heart. They have years of experience closing heart holes in adult and pediatric patients. The doctors are well-versed in various other congenital heart defects.