Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD is a condition in which there is a defect or hole in the heart. The defect is in the wall or the ventricular septum. The septum acts as a barrier between the lower chambers of your heart. A VSD allows the blood to pass from the left to the right side of your heart causing oxygen-rich blood to be pumped back into your lungs instead of moving through your body, making your heart work harder and increasing the pressure on it. It is a common defect of the heart present at birth (congenital).
A minor ventricular septal defect may not cause any significant health problems. Sometimes, these holes close on their own. Medium-sized or larger holes may require surgical treatment in early life to prevent further complications. Your doctor may initially suspect a heart defect first during a regular check-up if he/she hears a murmur while listening to the heart of your baby with a stethoscope. At times a VSD can be identified by an ultrasound test before the baby is born.
Sometimes a VSD is not detected until an individual reaches adulthood. Signs and symptoms can include shortness of breath or a heart murmur your doctor may hear while listening to your heart using stethoscope.
Symptoms of Ventricular Septal Defect
The prominent signs and symptoms of a serious heart defect start appearing in the first few days, weeks, or months after a child’s birth.
Some vital symptoms of Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) in a baby are:
- Poor dietary intake and weakness
- Getting tired easily
Complications can include
- Heart failure
- Pulmonary hypertension: Increased flow of blood to your lungs due to VSD causes pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure in the lung arteries. This can permanently damage the lungs. This complication can cause Eisenmenger syndrome, reversal of blood flow through the hole.
- Endocarditis: Abnormal heart rhythms and valve problems
There are no preventive measures to avoid a ventricular septal defect in your newborn. However, you can take certain measures to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few preventive tips:
- Get early access to prenatal care, including lifestyle changes recommended by your doctor for a healthy pregnancy.
- Ensure you have a balanced diet with all vitamins and minerals.
- Abstain from using tobacco, illegal drugs, and alcohol.
- Make sure you have taken all the vaccination shots before getting pregnant or planning a baby.
- If you have diabetes, you need to work with your doctor to keep it under control during pregnancy.
Babies with large VSDs or those who get tired quickly during feeding may require extra nutritional attention to ensure growth. Some babies also require medication for the treatment of heart failure.
There are mainly two remedies for the treatment of ventricular septal defect (VSD):
After the birth of your baby, the doctor may keep the baby under observation to see if the ventricular septal defect (VSD) is small and closes itself. But in other scenarios, doctors perform surgery in the first year of a child’s birth. Children and adults who develop a medium or large ventricular septal defect, or even some of its symptoms, also need to undergo surgery for hole closure.
The smaller ventricular septal closing is done surgically to prevent further complications related to its location. It can also impact the heart valves. People who undergo surgeries lead a normal, productive life with no problems.
The medication for ventricular septal defect depends mainly on the severity of the heart condition. The medication assists in decreasing the amount of fluids circulating in your lungs.
Treatment – Surgeries and Other Procedures
Doctors perform surgery to treat ventricular septal defect (VSD), which includes plugging or patching of the abnormal opening between the heart ventricles. If your child must undergo surgery, you must consult specialist surgeons and cardiologists for this procedure. The procedures for VSD are:
- Surgical repair: The procedure includes open-heart surgery under general anesthesia. It requires a heart-lung machine and an incision in the patient’s chest. During surgery, doctors use patches or stitches to close the hole.
- Catheter procedure: This procedure does not require the opening of the heart. In this procedure, doctors insert a thin tube (catheter) in a blood vessel in your groin and guide it towards your heart. The doctor uses a special mesh device to close the hole.
After the repair process, the doctor will schedule a follow-up to ensure that the ventricular septal defect remains closed. It also prevents the chances of complications.
Risks of Surgery
Most children do well with VSD surgery. But complications may develop sometimes. Specific risk factors may vary based on age, the size of the defect, and other health problems. Possible risks include:
- Excessive bleeding.
- Clotting of blood leading to issues such as stroke
- Irregular or abnormal heartbeat.
- Complications due to anesthesia.
At times, the chances of developing late complications exist, but these are very rare. The issues are generally related to heart valves when the patch used for fixing the defect becomes loose. In this situation, your child may need another surgery.
When to See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor if your child has the following symptoms:
- Your child gets tired doing simple chores, such as eating or playing.
- Your child does not gain weight even with a proper diet.
- Your child experiences breathlessness during simple activities.
- When your child is experiencing shortness of breath.
If you are feeling any of the following signs, you must call a doctor.
- Feeling out of breath when you exert or lie down.
- Experiencing rapid heartbeat.
- Experiencing weakness or fatigue.
For such major or minor issues, you must visit Apollo Hospitals for specific and dedicated care.
Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) is a serious issue in children and adults. For newborns, the hole in the heart closes on its own at times. But in other situations, surgery by an expert surgeon assists in healing the heart and closing the defect. For highly favorable and better results, it is essential to recognize the symptoms sooner and consult your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the symptoms of the Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)?
The common symptoms of VSD are-
- Shortness of breath
Are there other possible causes of VSD?
There is no specific cause of this defect. It may be due to genetics and environmental factors. It can also be the effect of other congenital heart defects.
Should a specialist be consulted?
Yes, it is essential to consult a specialist for surgeries related to the Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD).