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All About Ventricular Septal Defect

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All About Ventricular Septal Defect

Cardiac Surgery | by Dr. Manoj Kumar Daga | Published on 22/11/2021


Do you feel tired and shortness of breath often? If yes, then it might indicate a ventricular septal defect. It is an intricate heart condition affecting the heart chambers both right and left. It is one of the most common heart anomalies that occur during intrauterine life, thereby making infants born with it. It is essential to comprehend that early diagnosis and timely intervention help improve the quality of life for people having this condition. A small ventricular septal defect may not cause any health problems but requires medical advice from the best heart doctors in Kolkata BM Birla Heart Research Medical Institute. 

In this blog, we will shed light on everything that’s related to ventricular septal defects like their causes, symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is a Ventricular Septal Defect?

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole created in the septum (dividing wall made up of muscles and fibrous tissues) of the lower two chambers of the heart (i.e. right and left ventricles).

Due to the formation of a hole, the blood can pass through from the bottom left to the right chamber of the heart. This results in the oxygen-rich blood being pumped back to the lungs instead of the rest of the body. Thus high pressure is caused in the heart or less oxygen is found in the body.

A medium or large ventricular septal defect may result in health issues in the very first month of the newborn. This can cause a decrease in the pressure of the right side of the heart (which should be the same as the left side) resulting in the flow of blood from the left to the right ventricle (a path of least resistance) of the heart and into the lungs. It can lead to congestive heart failure and thus needs to be treated by surgical repair in early life to avoid any complications.

What are the symptoms of ventricular septal defect?

Depending upon the size of the hole, the symptoms may vary. Small ventricular defects usually go unnoticed in the newborn and may appear later in childhood. The child may be shown to a healthcare provider when he/she feels easily tired while playing or eating, has no weight gain, becomes breathless while crying or eating, has fast breathing or shortness of breath, has an irregular or rapid heartbeat, weakness, or fatigue. The birth defects of the heart show their symptoms usually in the first few days, weeks, or months of childbirth. If a baby has a hole in the heart’s ventricular septum, this may show symptoms like:

  • Rapid breathing or breathlessness
  • Inadequate diet and failure to thrive
  • Easy tiredness
  • A murmuring sound produced from the heart is heard in the stethoscope placed on the baby’s chest.

What are the causes of ventricular septal defects?

The causes of ventricular septal defect are not known, but there is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Here are the factors that often are determined to be contributing to the growth of ventricular septal defects:

  • Genetic factors- It involves some chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome 
  • Maternal factors such as diabetes, alcohol consumption, infections, etc.
  • Environmental factors like medications, and maternal smoking 
  • Advanced maternal age 

How is ventricular septal defect diagnosed?

Most of the ventricular septal defects can be diagnosed by the best cardiologist in Kolkata and during the physical examination the doctor checks for murmuring sound coming from the patient's heart. The murmur may change with time due to the closing of the small holes or large blood flow across the hole created by large ventral septal defects. An electrocardiogram can be recommended to check for strain on the heart by measuring the size of the heart chambers. A chest X-ray might also be performed to evaluate the size of the heart and the amount of blood flow to the lungs. In some children who have subtle signs of congestive heart failure, cardiac catheterization may be helpful in accurately knowing about the amount of flow of blood to the lungs and if there is any need for surgery.

How are ventricular septal defects treated?

If the hole formed is small in size, it does not make the heart and lungs work harder, and based on the patient's health surgery may be recommended. Mostly, in some cases, it closes on its own. In case of large ventricular defects, only surgery can help in closing the hole. Medications can only help in reducing the symptoms for some time but do not cure them.

In the case of infants with one or more ventricular septal defects or a VSD in an unusual area, a temporary procedure, pulmonary artery banding may be carried out to narrow the pulmonary artery and reduce the blood flow to the lungs. When the child gets older enough, the band is removed by operation, and open-heart surgery is done to close the large ventricular septal defect to prevent any health complications later in life. 

During the surgery, a fabric patch is sewn over the large VSD to close it which is further covered by a pericardium (the permanent lining present outside of the heart). After being treated for VSD, the child does not have to follow any special precautions for carrying out physical activities, he or she can participate in routine normal activities without any risk.


If you or your child is diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect, it is standard to feel anxious, worried, and apprehensive. It is better if you consult your doctor when you have feelings like these as they can understand you better. They will also offer you ways that are useful in treating this condition, averting complications, and reducing how it impacts the life of a patient. 

For more information about congenital heart defects and their treatment, schedule an appointment with our expert heart doctors at the best cardiac care, BM Birla Heart Research Centre.



What size ventricular septal defect requires surgery?

The size of the ventricular septal defect that is 6-10 mm in diameter needs surgery.

Can ventricular septal defect cause murmurs?

The ventricular septal defect causes murmurs that are harsh and loud.