Ventricular septal defect type 1 (VSD type 1) is a heart defect present at birth (congenital) in which there is a hole in the wall or septum that separates the ventricles (bottom two chambers of the heart). The septum separates oxygenated blood from deoxygenated blood. Normally, the holes in the septum close before the baby is born, but VSD is a common heart defect. In VSD Type 1, the hole occurs underneath the two arteries where blood leaves the heart (to either the lungs or to the body). If the hole is very small it may not affect how hard the heart has to work, and affected babies may not have symptoms. Sometimes a VSD is not diagnosed until childhood or even adulthood.
Often symptoms occur as soon as a few days after birth and include poor eating, fast breathing, breathlessness, and getting tired easily. VSDs often occur in families (hereditary) or with other genetic conditions. Type 1 is a less common type of VSD except in individuals of Asian descent where it accounts for about 1/3 of all VSDs. Medical researchers believe most VSDs are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Doctors may hear a swishing sound in the heartbeat (a murmur) when listening with a stethoscope. Tests used to confirm a VSD may include a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (EKG) (tests the electrical impulses), echocardiogram (used sound waves to create a picture), or cardiac MRI.
Medications may be used temporarily to increase heart function, but surgical repair is the most common treatment. Smaller defects may close on their own. If your baby or child has been diagnosed with a VSD, talk to their pediatric cardiologist (a heart doctor for children) about the most current treatment options. Support organizations and genetic counselors are also a good source of information and can help connect you with others affected by VSDs.