Atrial Septal Defect
An atrial septal defect is an abnormal opening between the heart's upper chambers. It is a common congenital (present from birth) heart defect. Smaller atrial septal defects may close on their own during infancy or early childhood or may be diagnosed and treated successfully with few or no complications. However, large and longstanding atrial septal defects can damage the heart and lungs. Large atrial septal defects allow extra blood volume, which can overfill the lungs and overwork the heart. If it is not treated, the right side of the heart enlarges and weakens. Adults who have not been diagnosed for many years may have a shorter life span from heart failure, a stroke, heart rhythm abnormalities or high blood pressure in the lungs. Atrial septal defects are not always diagnosed as early in life as other types of heart problems because the heart murmur it produces is faint and can be difficult for doctors to hear. It may be diagnosed at any time between infancy and adolescence or as late as adulthood.
UAB Medicine operates a Marfan Syndrome and Related Disorders Clinic, which is a multi-specialty clinic that includes physicians from the UAB Department of Pediatric Cardiology and the UAB Department of Genetics. Services offered include physical exams, echocardiogram/EKG, and genetic testing for diseases and conditions of the aorta, when needed. The clinic’s genetic counselor works with patients to help them better understand their condition and evaluate their risk for medical issues based on genetic testing results.
Because Marfan syndrome can affect the heart, patient care also may be provided by the UAB Congenital Heart Disease Program. The program offers the most advanced care for congenital (present at birth) heart disease, which often requires lifetime monitoring and care. Our multi-specialty team of pediatric and adult cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, cardiovascular anesthesiologists, and maternal-fetal medicine specialists have unique expertise in treating patients before birth and into adulthood.
UAB Medicine’s modern ultrasound equipment allows many heart defects to be diagnosed before a child is born. Screening exams performed at 18-20 weeks are recommended for expecting mothers or fathers known to have congenital heart disease. If a defect is discovered, our experts provide prenatal treatment and develop a plan for delivery and treatment after birth.
Thanks to advances in pediatric congenital care, the life expectancy for most patients now reaches far into adulthood. However, more than half of the people with congenital heart problems stop seeing a cardiologist once they turn 18. UAB’s Alabama Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program is designed to prevent that gap in care. As the only adult congenital heart disease program in the state and one of only a few in the country, our expertise greatly increases the chances that symptoms will be identified early. This helps ensure that less serious problems are addressed before they develop into larger, more life-threatening issues such as heart failure, arrhythmia, residual congenital heart defects, endocarditis, and stroke.
Dr. Cribbs on Business Break
More than 20,000 adults enter the Adult Congenital Heart Disease population every year, but 60% are lost to follow-up care.
Care of Adults with Congenital Heart Disease
Individuals born with congenital heart disease are now thriving into adulthood, but need lifelong follow-up care from sub-specialty experts.
Adult Congenital Heart Disease Risk Factors, Symptoms & Treatments
Some people are born with a defect or malformation in their heart or blood vessels, and this is called Congenital Heart Disease. UAB Cardiologist Edward Colvin, MD, talks to Daytime Alabama on WVTM-TV, Channel 13, in Birmingham, Ala., about the types of congenital heart disease and what adults with this disease should look for when choosing a doctor.
UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of atrial septal defect . We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.View Clinical Trials
Celebrating Easter Safely During COVID-19
As Easter approaches, celebrating the holiday during a pandemic may seem more optimistic than last year, but community members should remain diligent in their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Here are a few tips for celebrating Easter more safely this year:
Consult with your primary care physician for any concerns you have about the vaccine. The vaccines approved for use in the United States are intended to train the body to successfully fight the virus and minimize symptoms. There is still a possibility of contracting COVID-19 or infecting others even after vaccination.
UAB Medicine currently offers four vaccination sites across central Alabama. For more information appointment requests and eligibility, visit our COVID-19 vaccination website.
Wear a mask
Wear a mask securely over your nose and mouth, and make sure it fits snugly along the sides of your face. Mandates and guidelines for masking may vary by location, although the CDC still recommends wearing a mask in public indoor spaces and around those outside your household. There’s a health bonus, too: masking has been shown to reduce those pesky springtime allergies caused by various pollens in the air, according to a recent study.
If your place of worship offers an online or streaming service, consider tuning in to reduce the amount of in-person contact. Reach out to family, friends, or members of your congregation to see if there is a way to help them celebrate virtually. Instead of a traditional Easter egg hunt, coordinate with neighbors to place large, bright-colored paper eggs in their windows for neighbors to “hunt” while on a family walk.
If you still plan to hold or attend an in-person gathering, be sure there is ample space to spread out. Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces and buffet-style dining with shared serving utensils. Consider enjoying your Easter meal, or other activities and crafts, outside.
Wash Your Hands
Continue good hand hygiene before, during, and after meals and events. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse, backpack, or car for times when soap and water is not easily accessible.
If you or someone in your household is experiencing symptoms, or has recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19, cancel plans to gather with others and seek medical attention as necessary.
With the rollout of vaccine distribution across the United States, it is tempting to rush toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Continue taking precautions to protect yourself and those around you.