Ventricular Septal Defects

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Ventricular Septal Defects is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • Congenital Ventricular Defects
  • VSD
  • Hole in the Heart

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Ventricular septal defects are heart defects that are present at birth (congenital). The normal heart has four chambers. The two upper chambers, known as atria, are separated from each other by a fibrous partition known as the atrial septum. The two lower chambers are known as ventricles and are separated from each other by the ventricular septum. Valves connect the atria (left and right) to their respective ventricles. The aorta, the main vessel of arterial circulation, carries blood from the left ventricle and away from the heart.

Ventricular septal defects can occur in any portion of the ventricular septum. The size and location of the defect determine the severity of the symptoms. Small ventricular septal defects can close on their own; (spontaneously) or become less significant as the child matures and grows. Moderately-sized defects can cause congestive heart failure, which is characterized by an abnormally rapid rate of breathing (tachypnea), wheezing, unusually fast heartbeat (tachycardia), enlarged liver (hepatomegaly), and/or failure to thrive. Large ventricular septal defects can cause life-threatening complications during infancy. Persistent elevation of the pressure within the artery that carries blood away from the heart and to the lungs (pulmonary artery) can cause permanent damage to the lungs. The exact cause of ventricular septal defects is not fully understood.


American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
Tel: (214)784-7212
Fax: (214)784-1307
Tel: (800)242-8721

NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20892-0105
Tel: (301)592-8573
Fax: (301)251-1223

Adult Congenital Heart Association
6757 Greene Street, Suite 335
Philadelphia, PA 19119-3508
Tel: (215)849-1260
Fax: (215)849-1261
Tel: (888)921-2242

Kids With Heart ~ National Association for Children's Heart Disorders, Inc.
1578 Careful Dr.
Green Bay, WI 54304
Tel: (920)498-0058
Fax: (920)498-0058
Tel: (800)538-5390

Little Hearts, Inc.
P.O. Box 171
110 Court Street, Suite 3A
Cromwell, CT 06416
Tel: (860)635-0006
Fax: (860)635-0006
Tel: (866)435-4673

Congenital Heart Information Network (C.H.I.N.)
P.O. Box 3397
Margate City, NJ 08402-0397
Tel: (609)823-4507
Fax: (609)822-1574

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223

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The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

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Last Updated:  1/30/2008
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