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Hole in the Heart

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 27 Nov 2019 | comments*Discuss
Hole In The Heart

A term that often conjures up some very obscure images, a hole in the heart is not as uncommon as most people think. The correct terminology for this condition is called a septal defect because in patients with a ‘hole in the heart’, the septum (which is the tissue that divides the heart into chambers) develops with a valve-like gap. In the developing foetus this gap exists in order to maintain the circulation of the baby and usually closes after birth but in some this does not occur and the gap remains open.

Causes Of A Hole In The Heart

Although there is no known exact cause for the problem occurring it is thought there is a connection between the expectant mother having had German measles or if the pregnant person has developed a condition called toxoplasmosis after having contact with infected cat excrement.

In many cases however, no cause is ever found and it is simply something that occurs as the baby grows hence why it is known as a congenital condition.


For many people the condition is so quiet that there are no obvious symptoms and it is not detected until the person has had a scan or investigation for another condition in later life. Others may find that they are becoming more and more out of breath and have no obvious explanation such as smoking, weight gain or other reason.

In some babies the condition may be detected shortly after birth following routine examinations but this is often not the case. A stethoscope that is placed on the chest can sometimes allow the doctor to hear an abnormal flow of blood through the heart muscle which may alert them to a potential problem. Following this an echocardiogram can explain this occurrence and help decide a definite diagnosis.

Treatments For A Hole In The Heart

The range of treatments depends entirely upon how the individual is managing the problem. As many people are unaware they have the condition it is not always necessary to treat it and the treatment may cause more damage or offer more risk than simply leaving it alone.

In small babies and youngsters the hole often closes as the person matures whilst others will find they are suffering more with their breathing as they age and will discuss with specialist which course of treatment will work for them.Sometimes the treatment will involve the use of a catheter (narrow but long tube) being fed into your circulatory system via an incision in your leg or groin. This catheter is guided to the defect following which a small device like an umbrella is inserted and opened which is placed over the defect. This is often the best form of treatment but may not be effective for everyone.

Surgery is frequently an option and involves a major operation in which a graft is placed over the defect and effectively closes the gap.

If major surgery is the only option it is important that the patient is in otherwise good health to ensure an effective and speedy recovery.

A hole in the heart may be a potential problem in the future and depends on the location and severity of the defect but for many it causes no major problems and will not need treating.

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susantrevino - 26-Jul-19 @ 2:24 PM
My boy friend have a hole in his heart recently he came to know about it now what should I do with it tell me plz suggest me as soon as possible ..i need to know what treatment does it work .... He has to be well as soon as possible
ayesha.basu - 8-Nov-15 @ 5:11 AM
Several of the people here were desperate for advice. Their time and anticipation were wasted: there is no advice. The feature is a waste of effort in an otherwise informative site. That's how it looks. Such a shame.
steeven - 24-May-15 @ 10:48 PM
I have a friend that has been surfing from same illness (hole in the heart)can he savive with that illness? He is just 20years old, and I also wonna know if making him happy,keeping him away from thinking too much can help in prolonging his life span, just need your advice and tell me what can help in healing his illness, he has been safaring from same illness for year, chest pains, cries all night, feeling useless to the people he loves, which is causing more harm than good, please I need your advice as soon as possible. Thank you!
MEZANI - 24-Jun-14 @ 1:16 PM
how much the total amount required for open heart surgeries.....or other operations or therappies...regarding heart holes...??? answer my question as fast as possible...this is regarding my friend she is of 17..
ashu - 6-Sep-13 @ 5:28 PM
how much the total amount required for open heart surgeries.....or other operations or therappies...regarding heart holes...??? answer my question as fast as possible...
ashu - 6-Sep-13 @ 5:26 PM
Sir i have a hole in the heart for 18yrs now and am having a big problem,blood always come out of my heart while coughing i don't know what to do now,i want to the hospital for treatment but i was told to bring 5million for my heart surgrey in india while am in nigeria my father is so poor he is just a farmer and we don't have such money am 18yrs old sir please i need ur advice,is there any druse that can help me? Or any process to follow?
Caskid - 5-Mar-13 @ 6:59 AM
I have recent open heart surgery, replacing the aortic valve. upon observation the doctor noted a hole near the aortic valve which he had to patch before replacing the valve with a mechanical one. Possible endocarditis causing inflammatory tissue and fistula or hole formation from the right coronary cusp to the right ventricle. doctor stated that this was not a patent foramen ovale. The doctor also noted an associated atrial septal aneurysm. I should point out that I was exposed to herbicide agents (agent orange) while serving in Vietnam. Could this be associated with my exposure? Regards
Shaman - 20-Feb-13 @ 8:17 AM
I bought a heart rate monitor, and found that even at an easy pace run, after a few mins I'm in the the 90%range. I'm 37 years and do run more than most. Is this normal?
si-si - 13-Oct-12 @ 11:47 AM
My 70 yr old father has copd & thought that was why his breathing has been getting worse.After being in the hospital for 5 days, they found out he has a hole in his heart and has developed congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. Will he be able to regain any of his health at this point or will he always be fatigued and need someone to help him?What isthe outcome of this for someone his age, when he's not healthy enough for surgery?
Gin - 22-Sep-12 @ 10:04 PM
I had an Hole in the heart repair in 1963 I was one of the first babies to have this done in Brompton hospital, although running is a problem I have lived an active life at 52 I row 2/3 times a week I walk and have a physical job. I hope this gives people hope and confidence bearing in mind we have come a long way in the last 50 years. Forever gratefull to the staff of Brompton, Mandy Collins.
mand - 27-Aug-12 @ 10:13 PM
tankz 4ur help av been sick wit a heart prblem 4 8yrz and av found my answer right here. Keep up the good work.
Ras - 18-Aug-12 @ 8:32 PM
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