Dubai: Kathleen Purificacion Farinas, a 28-year-old UAE resident, reached out to Zulekha Hospital when she experienced fatigue during her daily routine. She was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect a month ago. In such cases, patients can be completely asymptomatic or complain of tiredness on exertion and repeated chest infections.
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of your heart (atria). The condition is present at birth (congenital). Small defects may never cause a problem and may be found incidentally.
This congenital defect occurs as a result of early developmental problems in the heart’s structure. The exact cause of this defect in children is unknown but it can run in family. If one or both parents or sibling are affected then there is a high probability of this defect in the child.
At times taking certain prescribed drugs and consuming alcohol during pregnancy can increase a child’s risk of developing a heart defect.
Mothers who had a viral infection during the first trimester of pregnancy are more likely to give birth to a child with a heart defect, increased blood sugar levels may also affect heart development. Scientists have known that some types of congenital heart defects can be related to an abnormality in the number of an infant’s chromosomes or single gene defect.
The condition is present at birth (congenital). Small defects may never cause a problem and may be found incidentally. Small defects may never cause a problem and may be found incidentally. It's also possible that small atrial septal defects may close on their own during infancy or early childhood.
Large and long-standing atrial septal defects can damage your heart and lungs. An adult who has had an undetected atrial septal defect for decades may have a shortened life span from heart failure or high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
Surgery may be necessary to repair atrial septal defects to prevent complications.
(Source: Mayo Clinic)
If left untreated in long term, individuals are at risk of developing high lung pressure, heart failure, infection in the heart, heart rhythm disturbances, a high risk of stroke and sudden death.
Consultant Pediatric Cardiology Dr Nilesh Oswal says: “While most cases are treated in childhood, adults also can safely undergo this closure. The treatments are simple and involve one or two hour key-hole procedures. And today, there are several different type of devices available in market for the closures.
"The devices are made of Nitinol, a safe material and have two disks to close the hole. Patients can be mobilized six hours after the surgery and then resume their normal activities.”
Breathing more comfortably
Kathleen remarked: “I am very happy with the outcome of the defect closing procedure done at Zulekha Hospital, Dubai. I am breathing more comfortably now and feel lot lighter while performing my daily tasks.”
Consultant Interventional Cardiologist Dr Anil Bansal, who supported the procedure, added: “Families of such patients are impacted with a lower quality of life. Patients are generally panicking when one is diagnosed with the opening in his/her heart.
"They can lead a healthy life with a simple procedure and little caution. We are glad that we are helping Kathleen and similar patients normalize their lives.”
Kathleen is advised to take medicines for thinning blood for six months to prevent developing any blood clots around the device and avoid strenuous exercises for two weeks. Chances of any recurrence are absolutely negligible.