Accessible Search Form           Advanced Search


National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Logo

For more information, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/holes/


What Are Holes in the Heart?

Holes in the heart are simple congenital (kon-JEN-ih-tal) heart defects. Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart's structure that are present at birth. These defects change the normal flow of blood through the heart.

The heart has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. With each heartbeat, the right side of the heart receives oxygen-poor blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. The left side of the heart receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body.

The septum prevents mixing of blood between the two sides of the heart. However, some babies are born with holes in the upper or lower septum.

A hole in the septum between the heart's two upper chambers is called an atrial septal defect (ASD). A hole in the septum between the heart's two lower chambers is called a ventricular septal defect (VSD).

ASDs and VSDs allow blood to pass from the left side of the heart to the right side. Thus, oxygen-rich blood mixes with oxygen-poor blood. As a result, some oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the lungs instead of the body.

Over the past few decades, the diagnosis and treatment of ASDs and VSDs have greatly improved. Children who have simple congenital heart defects can survive to adulthood. They can live normal, active lives because their heart defects close on their own or have been repaired.




How the Heart Works

To understand holes in the heart, it's helpful to know how a healthy heart works. Your child's heart is a muscle about the size of his or her fist. The heart works like a pump and beats 100,000 times a day.

The heart has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. The left side of the heart receives the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body.

The heart has four chambers and four valves and is connected to various blood vessels. Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from the body to the heart. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to the body.

A Healthy Heart Cross-Section

The illustration shows a cross-section of a healthy heart and its inside structures. The blue arrow shows the direction in which oxygen-poor blood flows from the body to the lungs. The red arrow shows the direction in which oxygen-rich blood flows from the lungs to the rest of the body.

The illustration shows a cross-section of a healthy heart and its inside structures. The blue arrow shows the direction in which oxygen-poor blood flows from the body to the lungs. The red arrow shows the direction in which oxygen-rich blood flows from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Heart Chambers

The heart has four chambers or "rooms."

  • The atria (AY-tree-uh) are the two upper chambers that collect blood as it flows into the heart.
  • The ventricles (VEN-trih-kuhls) are the two lower chambers that pump blood out of the heart to the lungs or other parts of the body.

Heart Valves

Four valves control the flow of blood from the atria to the ventricles and from the ventricles into the two large arteries connected to the heart.

  • The tricuspid (tri-CUSS-pid) valve is in the right side of the heart, between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
  • The pulmonary (PULL-mun-ary) valve is in the right side of the heart, between the right ventricle and the entrance to the pulmonary artery. This artery carries blood from the heart to the lungs.
  • The mitral (MI-trul) valve is in the left side of the heart, between the left atrium and the left ventricle.
  • The aortic (ay-OR-tik) valve is in the left side of the heart, between the left ventricle and the entrance to the aorta. This artery carries blood from the heart to the body.

Valves are like doors that open and close. They open to allow blood to flow through to the next chamber or to one of the arteries. Then they shut to keep blood from flowing backward.

When the heart's valves open and close, they make a "lub-DUB" sound that a doctor can hear using a stethoscope.

  • The first sound—the "lub"—is made by the mitral and tricuspid valves closing at the beginning of systole (SIS-toe-lee). Systole is when the ventricles contract, or squeeze, and pump blood out of the heart.
  • The second sound—the "DUB"—is made by the aortic and pulmonary valves closing at the beginning of diastole (di-AS-toe-lee). Diastole is when the ventricles relax and fill with blood pumped into them by the atria.

Arteries

The arteries are major blood vessels connected to your heart.

  • The pulmonary artery carries blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs to pick up a fresh supply of oxygen.
  • The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the left side of the heart to the body.
  • The coronary arteries are the other important arteries attached to the heart. They carry oxygen-rich blood from the aorta to the heart muscle, which must have its own blood supply to function.

Veins

The veins also are major blood vessels connected to your heart.

  • The pulmonary veins carry oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left side of the heart so it can be pumped to the body.
  • The superior and inferior vena cavae are large veins that carry oxygen-poor blood from the body back to the heart.

For more information about how a healthy heart works, go to the Health Topics How the Heart Works article. This article contains animations that show how your heart pumps blood and how your heart's electrical system works.




Types of Holes in the Heart

Atrial Septal Defect

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the part of the septum that separates the atria. (The atria are the upper chambers of the heart.)

An ASD allows oxygen-rich blood to flow from the left atrium into the right atrium, instead of flowing into the left ventricle as it should. So, instead of going to the body, the oxygen-rich blood is pumped back to the lungs, where it has just been.

Cross-Section of a Normal Heart and 
a Heart With an Atrial Septal Defect

Figure A shows the normal structure and blood flow in the interior of the heart. Figure B shows a heart with an atrial septal defect. The hole allows oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the right atrium.

Figure A shows the structure and blood flow inside a normal heart. Figure B shows a heart with an atrial septal defect. The hole allows oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the right atrium.

An ASD can be small, medium, or large. Small ASDs allow only a little blood to flow from one atrium to the other. Small ASDs don't affect how the heart works and don't need any special treatment. Many small ASDs close on their own as the heart grows during childhood.

Medium and large ASDs allow more blood to leak from one atrium to the other. They're less likely to close on their own.

Most children who have ASDs have no symptoms, even if they have large ASDs.

The three major types of ASDs are:

  • Secundum. This defect is in the middle of the atrial septum and is the most common form of ASD. About 8 out of every 10 babies born with ASDs have secundum defects. At least half of all secundum ASDs close on their own. However, this is less likely if the defect is large.
  • Primum. This defect is in the lower part of the atrial septum. Primum defects often occur with heart valve problems. These defects aren't very common, and they don't close on their own.
  • Sinus venosus. This defect is in the upper part of the atrial septum. It's close to where a large vein (the superior vena cava) brings oxygen-poor blood from the upper body to the right atrium. Sinus venosus defects are rare, and they don't close on their own.

Atrial Septal Defect Complications

If an ASD isn't repaired, the extra blood flow to the right side of the heart and lungs may cause heart problems. Most of these problems don't occur until adulthood, often around age 30 or later.

Possible complications include:

  • Right heart failure. An ASD causes the right side of the heart to work harder because it has to pump extra blood to the lungs. Over time, the heart may become tired from this extra work and not pump well.
  • Arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs). Extra blood flowing into the right atrium through an ASD can cause the atrium to stretch and enlarge. Over time, this can lead to irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. Symptoms may include palpitations or a rapid heartbeat.
  • Stroke. Usually, the lungs filter out small blood clots that can form on the right side of the heart. Sometimes, though, a blood clot can pass from the right atrium to the left atrium through an ASD and be pumped out to the body. The clot can travel to an artery in the brain, block blood flow, and cause a stroke.
  • Pulmonary hypertension (PH). PH is increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries. These arteries carry blood from the heart to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Over time, PH can damage the arteries and small blood vessels in the lungs. They become thick and stiff, making it hard for blood to flow through them.

These problems develop over many years and rarely occur in infants and children. They also are rare in adults because most ASDs close on their own or are repaired in early childhood.

Ventricular Septal Defect

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the part of the septum that separates the ventricles. (The ventricles are the lower chambers of the heart.)

A VSD allows oxygen-rich blood to flow from the left ventricle into the right ventricle, instead of flowing into the aorta as it should. So, instead of going to the body, the oxygen-rich blood is pumped back to the lungs, where it has just been.

Cross-Section of a Normal Heart and 
a Heart With a Ventricular Septal Defect

Figure A shows the normal structure and blood flow in the interior of the heart. Figure B shows two common locations for a ventricular septal defect. The defect allows oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle.

Figure A shows the structure and blood flow inside a normal heart. Figure B shows two common locations for a ventricular septal defect. The defect allows oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle.

An infant who is born with a VSD may have one or more holes in the wall that separates the two ventricles. The defect also may occur alone or with other congenital heart defects.

Doctors will classify a VSD based on the:

  • Size of the defect.
  • Location of the defect.
  • Number of defects.
  • Presence or absence of a ventricular septal aneurysm—a thin flap of tissue on the septum. This tissue is harmless and can help a VSD close on its own.

VSDs can be small, medium, or large. Small VSDs don't cause problems and may close on their own. Small VSDs sometimes are called restrictive VSDs because they allow only a small amount of blood to flow between the ventricles. Small VSDs don't cause any symptoms.

Medium VSDs are less likely to close on their own. They may cause symptoms in infants and children. Surgery may be needed to close medium VSDs.

Large VSDs allow a lot of blood to flow from the left ventricle to the right ventricle. They're sometimes called nonrestrictive VSDs. Large VSDs likely won't close completely on their own, but they may get smaller over time.

Large VSDs often cause symptoms in infants and children. Surgery usually is needed to close large VSDs.

VSDs are found in different parts of the septum.

  • Membranous VSDs are located near the heart valves. These VSDs can close at any time.
  • Muscular VSDs are found in the lower part of the septum. They're surrounded by muscle, and most close on their own during early childhood.
  • Inlet VSDs are located close to where blood enters the ventricles. They're less common than membranous and muscular VSDs.
  • Outlet VSDs are found in the part of the ventricle where blood leaves the heart. These are the rarest type of VSD.

Ventricular Septal Defect Complications

Over time, if a VSD isn't repaired, it may cause heart problems. A medium or large VSD can cause:

  • Heart failure. Infants who have large VSDs may develop heart failure. This is because the left side of the heart pumps blood into the right ventricle in addition to its normal work of pumping blood to the body. The increased workload on the heart also increases the heart rate and the body's demand for energy.
  • Growth failure, especially in infants. A baby may not be able to eat enough to keep up with his or her body's increased energy demands. As a result, the baby may lose weight or not grow and develop normally.
  • Arrhythmias. The extra blood flowing through the heart can cause areas of the heart to stretch and enlarge. This can disturb the heart's normal electrical activity, leading to irregular heartbeats.
  • Pulmonary hypertension. The high pressure and high volume of extra blood pumped through a large VSD into the right ventricle and lungs can scar the lung's arteries. This problem is rare because most large VSDs are repaired in infancy.



What Causes Holes in the Heart?

Mothers of children who are born with atrial septal defects (ASDs), ventricular septal defects (VSDs), or other heart defects may think they did something wrong during their pregnancies. However, most of the time, doctors don't know why congenital heart defects occur.

Heredity may play a role in some heart defects. For example, a parent who has a congenital heart defect is slightly more likely than other people to have a child who has the problem. Very rarely, more than one child in a family is born with a heart defect.

Children who have genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, often have congenital heart defects. Half of all babies who have Down syndrome have congenital heart defects.

Smoking during pregnancy also has been linked to several congenital heart defects, including septal defects.

Scientists continue to search for the causes of congenital heart defects.




What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Holes in the Heart?

Atrial Septal Defect

Many babies who are born with atrial septal defects (ASDs) have no signs or symptoms. However, as they grow, these children may be small for their age.  

When signs and symptoms do occur, a heart murmur is the most common. A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat.

Often, a heart murmur is the only sign of an ASD. However, not all murmurs are signs of congenital heart defects. Many healthy children have heart murmurs. Doctors can listen to heart murmurs and tell whether they're harmless or signs of heart problems.

If a large ASD isn't repaired, the extra blood flow to the right side of the heart can damage the heart and lungs and cause heart failure. This generally doesn't occur until adulthood. Signs and symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Tiring easily during physical activity
  • Shortness of breath
  • A buildup of blood and fluid in the lungs
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen, and veins in the neck

Ventricular Septal Defect

Babies born with ventricular septal defects (VSDs) usually have heart murmurs. Murmurs may be the first and only sign of a VSD. Heart murmurs often are present right after birth in many infants. However, the murmurs may not be heard until the babies are 6 to 8 weeks old.

Most newborns who have VSDs don't have heart-related symptoms. However, babies who have medium or large VSDs can develop heart failure. Signs and symptoms of heart failure usually occur during the baby's first 2 months of life.

The signs and symptoms of heart failure due to VSD are similar to those listed above for ASD, but they occur in infancy.

A major sign of heart failure in infancy is poor feeding and growth. VSD signs and symptoms are rare after infancy. This is because the defects either decrease in size on their own or they're repaired.




How Are Holes in the Heart Diagnosed?

Doctors usually diagnose holes in the heart based on a physical exam and the results from tests and procedures. The exam findings for an atrial septal defect (ASD) often aren't obvious. Thus, the diagnosis sometimes isn't made until later in childhood or even in adulthood.

Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) cause a very distinct heart murmur. Because of this, a diagnosis usually is made in infancy.

Specialists Involved

Doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating heart problems are called cardiologists. Pediatric cardiologists take care of babies and children who have heart problems. Cardiac surgeons repair heart defects using surgery.

Physical Exam

During a physical exam, your child's doctor will listen to your child's heart and lungs with a stethoscope. The doctor also will look for signs of a heart defect, such as a heart murmur or signs of heart failure.

Diagnostic Tests and Procedures

Your child's doctor may recommend several tests to diagnose an ASD or VSD. These tests also will help the doctor figure out the location and size of the defect.

Echocardiography

Echocardiography (echo) is a painless test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The sound waves (called ultrasound) bounce off the structures of the heart. A computer converts the sound waves into pictures on a screen.

Echo allows the doctor to clearly see any problem with the way the heart is formed or the way it's working.

Echo is an important test for both diagnosing a hole in the heart and following the problem over time. Echo can show problems with the heart's structure and how the heart is reacting to the problems. This test will help your child's cardiologist decide whether and when treatment is needed.

EKG (Electrocardiogram)

An EKG is a simple, painless test that records the heart's electrical activity. The test shows how fast the heart is beating and its rhythm (steady or irregular). It also records the strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through the heart.

An EKG can detect whether one of the heart's chambers is enlarged, which can help diagnose a heart problem.

Chest X Ray

A chest x ray is a painless test that creates pictures of the structures in the chest, such as the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

This test can show whether the heart is enlarged. A chest x ray also can show whether the lungs have extra blood flow or extra fluid, a sign of heart failure.

Pulse Oximetry

Pulse oximetry shows the level of oxygen in the blood. A small sensor is attached to a finger or ear. The sensor uses light to estimate how much oxygen is in the blood.

Cardiac Catheterization

During cardiac catheterization (KATH-e-ter-i-ZA-shun), a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a vein in the arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck. The tube is threaded to the heart.

Special dye is injected through the catheter into a blood vessel or one of the heart's chambers. The dye allows the doctor to see the flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels on an x-ray image.

The doctor also can use cardiac catheterization to measure the pressure inside the heart chambers and blood vessels. This can help the doctor figure out whether blood is mixing between the two sides of the heart.

Doctors also use cardiac catheterization to repair some heart defects. For more information, go to "How Are Holes in the Heart Treated?"




How Are Holes in the Heart Treated?

Many holes in the heart don't need treatment, but some do. Those that do often are repaired during infancy or early childhood. Sometimes adults are treated for holes in the heart if problems develop.

The treatment your child receives depends on the type, location, and size of the hole. Other factors include your child's age, size, and general health.

Treating an Atrial Septal Defect

If a child has an atrial septal defect (ASD), routine checkups are done to see whether it closes on its own. About half of all ASDs close on their own over time, and about 20 percent close within the first year of life.

Your child's doctor will let you know how often your child should have checkups. For an ASD, frequent checkups aren't needed.

If an ASD requires treatment, catheter or surgical procedures are used to close the hole. Doctors often decide to close ASDs in children who still have medium- or large-sized holes by the time they're 2 to 5 years old.

Catheter Procedure

Until the early 1990s, surgery was the usual method for closing all ASDs. Now, thanks to medical advances, doctors can use catheter procedures to close secundum ASDs. These are the most common type of ASD.

Before a catheter procedure, your child is given medicine so he or she will sleep and not feel any pain. Then, the doctor inserts a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into a vein in the groin (upper thigh). He or she threads the tube to the heart's septum. A device made up of two small disks or an umbrella-like device is attached to the catheter.

When the catheter reaches the septum, the device is pushed out of the catheter. The device is placed so that it plugs the hole between the atria. It's secured in place and the catheter is withdrawn from the body.

Within 6 months, normal tissue grows in and over the device. The closure device does not need to be replaced as the child grows.

Doctors often use echocardiography (echo), transesophageal (tranz-ih-sof-uh-JEE-ul) echo (TEE), and coronary angiography (an-jee-OG-rah-fee) to guide them in threading the catheter to the heart and closing the defect. TEE is a special type of echo that takes pictures of the heart through the esophagus. The esophagus is the passage leading from the mouth to the stomach.

Catheter procedures are much easier on patients than surgery. They involve only a needle puncture in the skin where the catheter is inserted. This means that recovery is faster and easier.

The outlook for children having this procedure is excellent. Closures are successful in more than 9 out of 10 patients, with no major leakage. Rarely, a defect is too large for catheter closure and surgery is needed.

Surgery

Open-heart surgery generally is done to repair primum or sinus venosus ASDs. Before the surgery, your child is given medicine so he or she will sleep and not feel any pain.

Then, the cardiac surgeon makes an incision (cut) in the chest to reach the ASD. He or she repairs the defect with a special patch that covers the hole. A heart-lung bypass machine is used during the surgery so the surgeon can open the heart. The machine takes over the heart's pumping action and moves blood away from the heart.

The outlook for children who have ASD surgery is excellent. On average, children spend 3 to 4 days in the hospital before going home. Complications, such as bleeding and infection, are very rare.

In some children, the outer lining of the heart may become inflamed. This condition is called pericarditis (PER-i-kar-DI-tis). The inflammation causes fluid to collect around the heart in the weeks after surgery. Medicine usually can treat this condition.

While in the hospital, your child will be given medicine as needed to reduce pain or anxiety. The doctors and nurses at the hospital will teach you how to care for your child at home.

They will talk about preventing blows to the chest as the incision heals, limiting activity while your child recovers, bathing, scheduling ongoing care, and deciding when your child can go back to his or her regular activities.

Treating a Ventricular Septal Defect

Doctors may choose to monitor children who have ventricular septal defects (VSDs) but no symptoms of heart failure. This means regular checkups and tests to see whether the defect closes on its own or gets smaller.

More than half of VSDs eventually close, usually by the time children are in preschool. Your child's doctor will let you know how often your child needs checkups. Checkups may range from once a month to once every 1 or 2 years.

If treatment for a VSD is required, options include extra nutrition and surgery to close the VSD. Doctors also can use catheter procedures to close some VSDs. They may use this approach if surgery isn't possible or doesn't work. More research is needed to find out the risks and benefits of using catheter procedures to treat VSDs.

Extra Nutrition

Some infants who have VSDs don't grow and develop or gain weight as they should. These infants usually:

  • Have large VSDs
  • Are born too early
  • Tire easily during feeding

Doctors usually recommend extra nutrition or special feedings for these infants. These feedings are high-calorie formulas or breast milk supplements that give babies extra nourishment.

Some infants need tube feeding. A small tube is inserted into the mouth and moved down into the stomach. Food is given through the tube.

Tube feeding can add to or take the place of bottle feeding. This treatment often is short-term because a VSD that causes symptoms will likely require surgery.

Surgery

Most doctors recommend surgery to close large VSDs that are causing symptoms, affecting the aortic valve, or haven't closed by the time children are 1 year old. Surgery may be needed earlier if:

  • A child doesn't gain weight
  • Medicines are needed to control the symptoms of heart failure

Rarely, medium-sized VSDs that are causing enlarged heart chambers are treated with surgery after infancy. However, most VSDs that require surgery are repaired in the first year of life. Doctors use open-heart surgery and patches to close VSDs.




Living With Holes in the Heart

The outlook for children who have atrial septal defects (ASDs) or ventricular septal defects (VSDs) is excellent. Advances in treatment allow most children who have these heart defects to live normal, active lives with no decrease in lifespan.

Many children who have these defects need no special care or only occasional checkups with a cardiologist (a heart specialist) as they go through life.

Living With an Atrial Septal Defect

Small ASDs often close on their own and don't cause problems or require treatment. Children and adults who have small ASDs that don't close and don't cause symptoms are healthy and don't need treatment.

Others who have ASDs that don't close may need catheter procedures or surgery to close the holes and prevent possible long-term problems. Children recover well from these procedures and lead normal, healthy lives. Adults also do well after closure procedures.

Ongoing Care

Arrhythmias. The risk of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) increases before and after surgery. Adults who have ASDs and are older than 40 are especially likely to have arrhythmias. People who had arrhythmias before surgery are more likely to have them after surgery.

Followup care. Routine followup care into adult life is advised for people who have had:

  • An ASD repaired as an adult
  • Arrhythmias before and after surgery
  • An ASD repaired with a catheter procedure
  • Pulmonary hypertension (increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries) at the time of surgery

Antibiotics. Children who have severe heart defects may be at slightly increased risk for infective endocarditis (IE). IE is a serious infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves.

ASDs aren't associated with a risk of IE, except in the 6 months after repair (for both catheter procedures and surgery).

Your child's doctor or dentist may give your child antibiotics before medical or dental procedures (such as surgery or dental cleanings) that can allow bacteria into the bloodstream. Your child's doctor will tell you whether your child needs to take antibiotics before such procedures.

To reduce the risk of IE, gently brush your young child's teeth every day as soon as they begin to come in. As your child gets older, make sure he or she brushes every day and sees a dentist regularly. Talk with your child's doctor and dentist about how to keep your child's mouth and teeth healthy.

Special Considerations for Children and Teens

  • Physical activity. Children who have a repaired or closed ASD have no restrictions on their activity.
  • Growth and development. Children who have ASDs don't have growth or development problems.
  • Ongoing care. Your child should see his or her regular doctor for routine health care.
  • Additional surgery. When a child has an ASD but no other heart defects, additional surgery isn't needed.

Special Considerations for Adults

If you have an ASD repaired, your cardiologist or surgeon will explain what to expect during the recovery period. He or she will tell you when you can return to driving, working, exercising, and other activities.

Living With a Ventricular Septal Defect

Children who have small VSDs and no symptoms only need occasional followup with a cardiologist.

Children and adults who've had successful repair of VSDs and have no other congenital heart defects can expect to lead healthy, active lives.

Ongoing Care

Sometimes problems and risks remain after surgical closure. They include:

  • Arrhythmias. Serious and frequent arrhythmias require regular medical followup. The risk of arrhythmias is greater if surgery is done later in life.
  • Residual or remaining VSDs. This problem usually is caused by a leak at the edge of the patch used to close the hole. These VSDs tend to be very small and don't cause problems. They very rarely require another surgery.

Antibiotics. Children who have severe heart defects may be at slightly increased risk for IE. IE is a serious infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves.

Your child's doctor or dentist may give your child antibiotics before medical or dental procedures (such as surgery or dental cleanings) that can allow bacteria into the bloodstream. Your child's doctor will tell you whether your child needs to take antibiotics before such procedures.

To reduce the risk of IE, gently brush your young child's teeth every day as soon as they begin to come in. As your child gets older, make sure he or she brushes every day and sees a dentist regularly. Talk with your child's doctor and dentist about how to keep your child's mouth and teeth healthy.

Special Considerations for Children and Teens

  • Physical activity. Children who have small VSDs that don't require surgery or who have recovered from VSD repair shouldn't have activity restrictions. Be sure to check with your child's doctor about whether your child can take part in sports.
  • Growth and development. Your pediatrician or family doctor will check your child's growth and development at each routine checkup. Babies who have large VSDs may not grow as quickly as other infants. These babies usually catch up after their VSDs are closed.
  • Ongoing care. Your child should see his or her regular doctor for routine health care.
  • Additional surgery. Teens and young adults rarely need additional surgery once VSDs are closed or repaired.



Clinical Trials

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is strongly committed to supporting research aimed at preventing and treating heart, lung, and blood diseases and conditions and sleep disorders.

NHLBI-supported research has led to many advances in medical knowledge and care. Often, these advances depend on the willingness of volunteers to take part in clinical trials.

Clinical trials test new ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat various diseases and conditions. For example, new treatments for a disease or condition (such as medicines, medical devices, surgeries, or procedures) are tested in volunteers who have the illness. Testing shows whether a treatment is safe and effective in humans before it is made available for widespread use.

By taking part in a clinical trial, your child can gain access to new treatments before they're widely available. Your child also will have the support of a team of health care providers, who will likely monitor his or her health closely. Even if your child doesn't directly benefit from the results of a clinical trial, the information gathered can help others and add to scientific knowledge.

Children (aged 18 and younger) get special protection as research subjects. Almost always, parents must give legal consent for their child to take part in a clinical trial.

When researchers think that a trial's potential risks are greater than minimal, both parents must give permission for their child to enroll. Also, children aged 7 and older often must agree (assent) to take part in clinical trials.

If you agree to have your child take part in a clinical trial, you'll be asked to sign an informed consent form. This form is not a contract. You have the right to withdraw your child from a study at any time, for any reason. Also, you have the right to learn about new risks or findings that emerge during the trial.

For more information about clinical trials related to holes in the heart, talk with your doctor. For more information about clinical trials for children, visit the NHLBI's Children and Clinical Studies Web page.

You also can visit the following Web sites to learn more about clinical research and to search for clinical trials:




Links to Other Information About Holes in the Heart

NHLBI Resources

Non-NHLBI Resources

Clinical Trials

 
July 01, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.

Twitter iconTwitter         Facebook iconFacebook         YouTube iconYouTube        Google+ iconGoogle+