Adult congenital heart disease

Supporting you with the latest medical advances

Adult congenital heart disease has become more prevalent as medical advances have made it possible for those born with heart defects to live longer and healthier lives. At Novant Health UVA Health System, we know that comprehensive care through our network of providers helps ensure that adults living with congenital heart disease live a full and healthy life.

Congenital heart defects are present at birth and often require treatments or medications throughout adulthood. Our team of providers know that congenital heart defects can be complex and unique. This is why we work with each patient to identify a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Types of adult congenital heart defects:

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Atrial septal defect (ASD)

An atrial septal defect is a hole in the wall that separates the upper chambers of your heart. When this hole is present, blood that show flow to the left ventricle instead pumps back to the right side of the heart and back to the lungs, creating more work for the heart. These defects are congenital (present at birth) and can go undetected for decades depending on size and severity of the defect. Adults with undetected atrial septal defects may have a shortened life span due to high blood pressure and heart failure. However, small defects may not pose any threat to your health as an adult and may not require any intervention or treatment.

If you have a large atrial septal defect, your Novant Health UVA Health System provider will recommend closing it during a cardiac catheterization to close the hole. If your defect cannot be closed using this method, your cardiologist may suggest open-heart surgery.

Learn more about cardiac catheterization

To learn more about adult congenital heart disease, find a find a Novant Health UVA Health System provider close to you.

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Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

A ventricular septal defect is a hole in the wall that separates the lower two chambers of our heart. When this hole does not close during fetal development, oxygen rich blood pumps back to the right side of the heart and back to the lungs, causing high blood pressure and reduced oxygen to the body. This defect is congenital (present at birth) and is most common defect found with newborns. It is not as common with adults as some VSD’s close on their own. Smaller ventricular septal defects are typically found in adults and usually do not cause symptoms. However, even smaller VSD’s can be a source of infection in the heart called endocarditis.

Depending on the size of your VSD and if you have had an instance of infection (endocarditis) because of your defect, your Novant Health UVA Health System provider may recommend a closure of the VSD with surgery or with a device that will “plug” the hole during cardiac catheterization.

Learn more about cardiac catheterization

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Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

A patent foramen ovale is a hole in the heart that did not close after birth. Similar to an atrial septal defect, this hole is between the upper chambers of the heart. However, if the formane ovale flap does not close during infancy, it causes a patent foramen ovale. Many adults are not aware they have this as it oftentimes does not produce symptoms and thus requires no treatment.

If your Novant Health UVA Health System provider determines your PFO requires closure, this may be done surgically or with a device that will “plug” the hole through cardiac catheterization.

Learn more about cardiac catheterization