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Ventricular Septal Defect (cont.)

Ventricular Septal Defect Symptoms

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:

The skin turns faintly bluish when the tissues are not receiving quite enough oxygen. This condition is often termed "hypoxemia" or "hypoxia."

When to Seek Medical Care for Ventricular Septal Defect

Any of the following should be reported to your child's health care provider:

  • Poor weight gain or slowing of weight gain in the first months of life
  • Unusual behavior
  • Any of the other symptoms noted in the previous section

An immediate visit to the nearest hospital emergency department is warranted if you notice any of the following in your infant:

  • Shortness of breath, breathing difficulty of any type, or worsening of an existing breathing problem
  • Bluish color of the skin, lips, or under the nails
  • Unusual or unexplained sweating
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/31/2015
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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.

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