What Does It Mean When A Baby Is Born With A Hole In The Heart

hole in the heart - atrial septal defectSometimes, in close groups of friends and small town media outlets we hear about babies and young children with a hole in their heart. This is known as an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). What you may not realize is this is more common than you think.

Every six out of 1,000 are born with an ASD.

ASD causes a hole through the wall that normally separates the right side of the heart from the left. The right side of the heart receives blood from the body and pumps it into the lungs to re-oxygenate it. The left side receives that oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps in out to the rest of the body. ASD causes a portion of the oxygenated blood to flow back into the right side of the heart instead of going out to the rest of the body. The right side works harder to fix the problem, but can cause the lungs to flood creating trouble breathing. In worst case scenarios, this respiratory distress can cause malnourishment as they are not able to be fed fully, as well as other serious heart conditions.

Usually, babies are born with small ASDs that close on their own as the child grows. Even for medium to large ASDs, symptoms are sometimes not obvious. Doctors can usually diagnose an atrial septal defect later in life when a heart murmur is noted during a routine checkup.

Treating The Hole In The Heart

Parents and patients have a few different options when it comes to treating ASD.

  • Surgical Therapy – For severe ASD, we recommend minimally invasive atrial septal defect repair. A small incision is placed between the ribs and tiny tools are used to close the hole.
  • Medical Therapy – For small ASDs, close monitoring and routine medical tests are performed to see if the hole closes up on it’s own.
  • Catheter Therapy – For severe ASD, a catheter can also be placed inside the body to close up the hole in the heart.

Want To Know More?

If you or a loved one is suffering from a hole in the heart and in need of surgery or a second opinion, get in touch with Dr. Ciuffo and his expert minimally invasive heart surgery team today. Learn more details about ASD and repairs at our main ASD page. Call Dr. Ciuffo’s office at (330) 588-4676 or contact us online.


A picture of Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD wearing his Mercy One doctor attire.

About the Author

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD Director is an expert in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Bloodless Heart Surgery is the outcome of his commitment to the development and improvement of both of these techniques. He runs a Cardiothoracic Surgery practice and manages Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program where he cares for patients from all over the country and locally. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ciuffo.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery