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Atrial Septal Defects


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An atrial septal defect (ASD) is an opening in the atrial septum allowing blood to shunt between left and right atria. When the defect involves tissue of the septum primum at or around the area of the foramen ovale, it is a secundum ASD. Defects of the sinus venosus - the embryological origin of the junction of superior and inferior vena cava into the right atrium - are known as sinoseptal defects or sinus venosus ASDs. The latter defects are often associated with partial anomalous pulmonary venous return. When the defect involves endocardial cushion tissue, it is referred to as a primum ASD.

ASDs are a common type of congenital heart disease, though their precise incidence is not well understood. An isolated ASD may present at any age, since the resulting murmur is often overlooked. In children with congenital heart disease, it is estimated that as many as 33-50% will have an associated ASD as part of their complex of disease. Interestingly, the prevalence of ASDs increases in populations living at higher altitudes.

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Summer, 2000 (CJ)