What is Ventricular Septal Defect?
What is Ventricular Septal Defect? Ventricular Septal Defect is a congenital heart defect of a hole in the separating wall (septum) between the right ventricle and the left ventricle of the heart. In most cases, a ventricular septal defect appears at the bottom of the aortic valve. This valve serves to control the flow of blood from the left ventricle to the main artery blood vessels in the body, the aorta.
The ventricular septal defect causes oxygen-rich blood to not be pumped throughout the body, but returns to the lungs. As a result, heart work becomes more severe. This anatomical heart disorder is generally a congenital abnormality gained from birth. If small, the ventricular septal defect may close by itself after some time. However, if large, this hole should be closed through surgery.
Under normal conditions, blood is pumped from the right heart to the lungs to get oxygen, and reenter the left heart. Then the left heart is in charge of pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. The presence of a ventricular septal defect causes blood from the oxygen-rich left ventricle to mix with blood in the unoxygenated right ventricle. This forces the heart, either the right or the left, to work harder.
Symptoms of Ventricular Septal Defect
The ventricular septal defect is often not directly detected at birth, especially if the defect hole is small. In fact, this disorder may not show symptoms until entering childhood.
The symptoms of a ventricular septal defect vary, depending on the size of the defect hole and of the presence or absence of other accompanying cardiac defects. Here are some symptoms of a ventricular septal defect commonly found in infants or children:
- Shortness of breath and easy fatigue.
- Loss of appetite.
- Weight gain is inhibited.
- Breathlessness and sweating a lot at meals or crying.
- The skin is pale, and may turn blue around the lips and nails.
- Often have respiratory infections.
- Rapid and irregular heartbeat.
These symptoms will be very dangerous if ignored and can be fatal.In adults, the symptoms of a ventricular septal defect are usually breathless breathing either during activity or lying down, rapid and irregular heartbeat, and often feel tired and weak. The symptoms that appear are generally lighter so often ignored. But if not resolved, complaints can become more severe.
Causes of Ventricular Septal Defect
The ventricular septal defect is generally a congenital heart defect caused by a disturbance in the fetal heart formation process, where the dividing wall between the right ventricle and the left ventricle of the heart does not close completely. The cause of the disorder itself is still unclear. However, it is well known that ventricular septal defects are more common in Asians, in people with a history of congenital heart disease in the family, and in people with genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome.
Although very rare, ventricular septal defects may also occur in adulthood, usually after a heart attack or due to a chest injury.
Diagnosis of Ventricular Septal Defect
On the physical examination of the ventricular septal defect patient, the doctor will find a heart murmur (a heart sound that sounds like a swish). Follow-up checks that will then be performed to confirm the diagnosis are:
- Pulse Oximeter. A portable device for measuring oxygen levels in the blood by placing the sensor at the patient’s fingertips.
- Echocardiogram. This test is done to get a picture of the heart and its parts by using sound waves. The resulting image is in the form of a moving graph that is displayed on the tool screen.
- Cardiac catheterization. This method is done by inserting a thin elastic tube (catheter) through a blood vessel in the groin, neck or arm, to be directed toward the heart.
In addition, some of the following checks can be done to see if complications have occurred:
- Chest x-rays. Imaging method with electromagnetic waves to see the condition of the heart and lungs.
- Electrocardiogram. This test is done by attaching the leads to the skin, to record the electrical activity of the heart.
Treatment of Ventricular Septal Defect
Surgery is a major handling option, especially if the defect hole is large and produces significant symptoms. Drugs may be given to treat symptoms before surgery can be performed, or until the patient’s condition allows for surgery. In small ventricular septal defects, often the holes can close by themselves. In such cases, medicines may also be provided to treat possible symptoms, while monitoring patient progress.
Some commonly performed surgical procedures are:
- Closing with a catheter. Closure of a hole in the septum is done by cardiac catheterization, without surgery.
- Heart surgery. Conducted by opening the chest cavity and conducting a hole suture on the heart septum. During surgery, the work of the heart and lungs temporarily replaced by a machine called the heart-lung machine.
- Hybrid procedure. In the combined procedure, the incisions are made only small to insert a catheter into the heart, without opening the chest cavity and without the need to stop the temporary heart activity. Closure of a hole in the septum is then performed through a catheter. With more minimal injuries, recovery periods with this procedure are of course faster than surgical procedures.
Drugs that can be given to overcome the symptoms that appear on ventricular septal defects include:
- Diuretics. This type of drug is used to reduce excess fluid from the body so that the work of the heart is lighter and the patient feels better.
- Vasodilator. It can reduce the pressure in the patient’s left coronary heart and make the heart rate more regular.
- Digoxin. Increases the power of the heart muscle to pump blood.
Complications of Ventricular Septal Defect
A small ventricular septal defect may not cause problems. However, if the hole of the defect is medium to large, this disorder can cause serious problems that may lead to death, therefore should be addressed.
The longer the ventricular septal defect is left untreated, the worse the problems and symptoms are caused. Preliminary treatment is done to prevent the emergence of complications such as pulmonary hypertension, hypoxemia, hypoxia, endocarditis, and other heart disorders.
Prevention of Ventricular Septal Defect
In general, nothing can be done to prevent the occurrence of ventricular septal defects. But at least the application of a good lifestyle to maintain healthy content and fetus during pregnancy remains to be done. Among others are:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Routine exercise.
- Live a balanced diet.
- Keep away from cigarettes, narcotics, and alcohol.
- Avoid yourself from infection.
- Controlling diabetes.