Ventricular Septal Defect (cont.)
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What are the symptoms of ventricular septal defect?
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Small holes in the ventricular septum usually produce no symptoms but are often recognized by the child's health care provider when a loud heart murmur along the left side of the lower breast bone or sternum is heard. Large holes typically produce symptoms 1-6 months after an infant's birth. Large holes may not have murmurs at all. Instead, the left ventricle begins to fail, producing the following symptoms:
When a ventricular septal defect is not detected early in life, it can cause more severe problems and more severe symptoms as time goes on. The biggest concern is development of high pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). If the ventricular septal defect is not surgically closed, irreversible pulmonary hypertension can develop, and the child is no longer operable and has a poor prognosis. The following are typical symptoms of pulmonary hypertension:
The skin turns faintly bluish when the tissues are not receiving quite enough oxygen. This condition is often termed "hypoxemia" or "hypoxia."
What causes ventricular septal defects?
No one knows what causes ventricular septal defects, but they probably come from a malformation of the heart that occurs while the infant is developing in the womb.
The most common type of ventricular septal defect is the membranous variant. In this type, the hole is located below the aortic valve, which controls flow of blood from the left ventricle into the main artery of the body, the aorta.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/5/2016
Mark Merlin, DO, FACEP
Alan D Forker, MD
Jonathan Adler, MD
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