Follow-up depends on the type of defect, the treatment offered, and the presence of other defects. Repeated echocardiograms are performed after discharge from the hospital, a year later, and then at the request of your doctor or your child’s doctor. With simple atrial septal defects closed in childhood, only periodic follow-up is usually required.
Adults who have had an atrial septal defect repaired should be monitored throughout their lives to check for complications such as pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmias, heart failure, or valve problems. Follow-up surveys are usually conducted annually.
Study our Institute’s “studies” that test new treatments, endovascular surgeries, and tests to prevent, detect, treat, or manage this disease.
If you have a congenital heart defect or have undergone surgery to correct it, you may wonder about limitations in your activities and other problems.
Exercises. An atrial septal defect usually does not prevent you from exercising. If you have complications such as arrhythmia, heart failure, or pulmonary hypertension, you may be advised to avoid certain activities or exercises. Your cardiologist can help you find out exactly what is safe.
If you have an undetected defect, your doctor will most likely advise you to avoid scuba diving and high altitude climbing.
Prevention of infectious infection. Some heart defects and their elimination cause changes on the surface of the heart that make it more susceptible to infections (infectious endocarditis). Atrial septal defects are not usually associated with infectious endocarditis, although your doctor will most likely recommend preventative antibiotics for about six months after closure, when you will have dental operations.
But if you have heart defects other than an atrial septal defect, or if you have had an atrial septal defect corrected in the past six months, you may need to take antibiotics before certain dental or surgical procedures.
Preparing for a doctor’s appointment
If your doctor suspects an atrial septal defect, you or your child will most likely be referred to a doctor with experience in dealing with heart disease (a cardiologist). Here is some information that will help you prepare for the meeting.
Make a list:
- Symptoms you or your child have and when did you notice them
- Key personal information, including severe stress or recent life changes, as well as a family history of heart disease
- All medications, vitamins, or other supplementsthat you or your child take, including doses.
- Questions to your doctor
In the case of an atrial septal defect you should ask your doctor the following questions:
- What is the most likely cause of these symptoms?
- Are there any other possible reasons?
- What tests are needed?
- Is this a temporary or permanent condition?
- What are the treatment options?
- What are the risks of endovascular treatment or open surgery?
- What activity restrictions are necessary before and after surgery?
Feel free to ask other questions.
What to expect from a doctor
Your doctor will probably ask you questions, including:
- Were the symptoms permanent or accidental?
- Do your symptoms worsen when you exercise?
- Are there any causes that make your symptoms worse?
- Is there anything that can improve your symptoms?
- Is there a family history of birth defects?