An open oval window is a hole in the heart that has not closed, although it should have done so immediately after birth.
During fetal development, the wall between the right and left upper chambers of the heart – the Atria-usually has a small opening in the form of a valve – an oval opening. It usually closes in infancy. When an oval hole does not close, it is called an open oval window.
An open oval window is present in a third of the entire human population throughout life, and many patients do not even know that they have it. The oval window is often found in patients during the examination of other diseases. It is clear that knowing that you have an open oval window is necessary, however, most people never need treatment for this small defect.
Most people with an open oval window do not even know that they have it, no wonder, because most often it does not have any special signs and symptoms.
There is no reason to believe that the main reason for not closing the oval window is genetic, but this hypothesis is the most common.
For a better understanding of why an open oval window is for the fetus, we will show you the principles of heart work in an adult.
Normal heart function after birth
There are four chambers in the heart that help blood circulate through the body:
Right atrium. The upper right chamber receives oxygen-depleted blood from veins throughout the body and pumps it to the right ventricle through the tricuspid valve.
Right ventricle. The right lower chamber of the heart pumps blood through a large vessel – the pulmonary artery to the lungs, to remove carbon dioxide from the blood and fill it with oxygen.Blood passes through the pulmonary artery valve, which is closed when the right ventricle is relaxed and filled with blood and the right atrium.
Left atrium. The upper right chamber of the heart receives oxygen-rich blood from the pulmonary veins and pumps it to the left ventricle through the mitral valve.
Left ventricle. The lower left chamber of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through the aorta to all the organs of the body. Blood passes through the aortic valve, which is closed when the left ventricle is relaxed and filled with blood from the left atrium.
The work of the child’s heart in the womb
The baby in the womb is not breathing, so the lungs are not functioning yet. This means that there is no need to pump blood to the lungs. At this stage, it is much more effective to bypass the lungs and use another way to transfer oxygen-rich blood from the mother’s body to the child. Through the umbilical cord, oxygen-rich blood enters the baby’s right atrium. Most of this blood passes through the oval opening immediately into the left atrium. From there, the blood flows to the left ventricle and then to the entire body of the child. Blood also passes from the right atrium to the right ventricle which also passes through other bypass routes to all the arteries of the body.
Heart of a newborn
When a newborn utters the first cry, its lungs begin to work and the mechanisms of blood circulation in the heart change. Now, oxygen-rich blood comes from the lungs and enters the left atrium. At this stage, blood circulation is normal as in an adult.
Blood pressure in the heart causes the oval window valve to close. For most people, this happens in infancy.