Atrial Septal Defect Repair at SSM Heart Institute
Atrial Septal Defect
Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a heart defect in which blood flows between the atria of the heart. Some flow is a normal condition both pre-birth and immediately post-birth via the foramen ovale, however when this does not naturally close after birth it is referred to as a patent (open) foramen ovale (PFO). Normally, after PFO closure, the atria are separated by a dividing wall, the interatrial septum. If this septum is defective or absent, then oxygen-rich blood can flow directly from the left side of the heart to mix with the oxygen-poor blood in the right side of the heart, or vice versa. This can lead to lower-than-normal oxygen levels in the arterial blood that supplies the brain, organs, and tissues. However, an ASD may not produce noticeable signs or symptoms, especially if the defect is small. Also, in terms of health risks, people who have had a cryptogenic stroke are more likely to have a PFO than the general population.