Font Size
A
A
A
2
...

Ventricular Septal Defect (cont.)

What are the symptoms of ventricular septal defect?

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:

  • Fast breathing
  • Sweating
  • Pallor
  • Very fast heartbeats
  • Decreased feeding
  • Poor weight gain

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:

  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis)

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.

  • There may be just one hole or several holes in the septum.
  • The septum itself is divided into multiple areas, including the membranous part, the muscular part, and other areas called the inlet and outlet. Any or all of these parts can have a hole.
  • The location of the hole depends on where the malformation takes place during fetal development.

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
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Ventricular Septal Defect

Chest Pain
Chest Pain Overview Chest pain has a variety of noncardiac and cardiac causes, some of which can be very serious. Signs and symptoms of chest pain may include burning, squeezing, o...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Ventricular Septal Defect:

Ventricular Septal Defect - Experience

Please share your experience with ventral septal defect.

Ventricular Septal Defect - Symptoms

What were the symptoms of your child ventricular septal defect?

Ventricular Septal Defect - Medication

What treatment medication did your child receive for his or her ventricular septal defect, and was it effective?

Atrial Fibrillation Slideshow

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Ventricular Septal Defect, General Concepts »

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole or a defect in the septum that divides the 2 lower chambers of the heart and that results in a communication between the ventricular cavities.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary