1 What is Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)?

Ventricular septal defect is a clinical condition in which there is a hole in the ventricular septum. This is of great importance because right side of human heart has deoxygenated blood and left side of the heart has oxygenated blood from lungs. Mixing of blood might happen in case of ventricular septal defect leading to supply of poorly oxygenated blood to all organs of out body.

Human heart is very complex organ which supplies blood and nutrients to the body. To understand ventricular septal defect one must know the structure of human heart.

Heart has four chambers 2 auricles and 2 ventricles. There is a septum in between auricles separating them known as auricular septa and in between ventricles there is a ventricular septum.

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2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ventricular septal defect (VSD) are seen in first few days, weeks or months of child’s life. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • poor appetite,
  • failure to thrive,
  • fast breathing(tachypnea),
  • easy tiring.

If the septal defect is minor symptoms do not appear until late childhood. Severity of signs and symptoms depend on the size of hole and other associated heart defects. Murmurs are heard while auscultation. Sometimes ventricular septal defects can be noticed in ultrasonography before the birth of baby. Sometimes VSD is detected as late as adult childhood.

3 Causes

Ventricular septal defect of a congenital heart defect arise from developmental defects of heart, but there is often no clear cause. Genetics and environmental factors contribute to the development of VSD.

VSD can occur with or without any other congenital heart defect. During the development of the muscular septa which separated the left and right chambers of heart does not develop completely. It is also possible to acquire VSD later in life after a heart attack.

4 Treatment

Treatments for ventricular septal defect (VSD) vary depending on its size.

Babies with small ventricular septal defect do not require any procedures to close the septal defect. Doctors treat this condition by giving medications symptomatic therapy and wait for the septal defect to close on its own. However, in severe cases surgery is required to treat the defect.


Medications for ventricular septal defect may include:

  • Increase the strength of heart’s contractions such as digoxin.
  • Decrease the amount of fluid in circulation and lungs reducing the requirement of increased cardiac output such as diuretics(furosemide).
  • Keep the heartbeat regular. Selective beta-1 blocker such as dobutamine.

Surgical procedures such as:

  • Catheter procedure- closing a VSD during catheterization doesn't require opening of the chest cavity. In this procedure doctor uses a thin meshwork to close the hole.
  • Open heart surgery- this procedure involves opening of chest cavity under general anesthesia also requires a heart-lung machine. Doctor uses stitches or a patch to close the hole in the heart septum.
  • Hybrid procedure-this procedure uses catheter and surgical techniques. This procedure is performed without stopping the heart function and usage of heart-lung machine. Recovery from this procedure is quicker than standard procedure.

5 Prevention

In most cases nothing can be done to prevent ventricular septal defect (VSD) as this a congenital heart defect occur during pregnancy. However, it is important to do everything possible to have healthy pregnancy:

  • Early prenatal care- quit smoking, reduce stress, stoppage of consuming birth control pills.
  • Balanced diet- include vitamin supplements that contains folic acid also limit usage of caffeine.
  • Exercise regularly- work with physician and perform mild exercise.
  • Avoid risks- they include consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs.
  • Avoid infections- a healthy and hygienic lifestyle can avoid infections.
  • Keep diabetes under control- diabetes must be kept under control to prevent complications while pregnancy. Talking with a genetic counselor if there is a history of heart defects.  

6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Alternative and homeopathic remedies cannot treat this condition as it is a congenital developmental defect. It is not recommended to use any home remedies to treat ventricular septal defect.

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary for your child in order to cope with ventricular septal defect (VSD).

Parents are often worried about their children with congenital heart defects engaging in vigorous activity, even after successful treatment. Children with minor VSD will have no problems with exercise or engaging themselves in other activities. However, depending on the severity of disorder restrictions might increase or decrease.

Doctor will advise the limits of child to parents what activities the child can do and what he cannot. Child must be engaged in other activities which do not require physical activity. Many children with VSD are healthy and have productive lives.  Consider joining support groups and connect with other families to share experiences. 

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with ventricular septal defect (VSD).

Ventricular septal defect appears to run in families and sometimes occur with other genetic problems, such as Down syndrome. Seeking the help of a genetic councilor will predict child having VSD.

Depending on the severity of ventricular septal defect complications range from mild to severe:

  • Pulmonary hypertension-increased blood flow to the lungs due to VSD causes high blood pressure in lung arteries. Which can permanently damage them this process can cause a reversal in blood flow through the hole called Eisenmenger syndrome.
  • Endocarditis- this heart infection is an uncommon complication.
  • Other heart problems- they include abnormal heart rhythms and valve problems.