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What Is Ventricular Septal Defect
Aug 2015
Dr Tapan Ghose
Director, HOD Cardiology, Gurgaon

One of Bollywood’s most vivacious and enigmatic beauties, Madhubala died at the young age of 36 years. What exactly was the ailment that claimed her life? It was a congenital heart defect called ventricular septal defect (VSD). Born as a ‘blue baby,’ as such babies are referred to, she had a hole in her heart wall that separates the right and the left ventricles.

This condition causes a ‘leakage’ of blood from one ventricle to another and the resultant complications can be life-threatening if not treated on time. However, this condition is successfully treated today in most children. Ventricular septal defect (VSD), commonly known as ‘hole in heart’, occurs in 0.1 to 0.4 per cent of all live births and makes up about 20 to 30 per cent of congenital heart lesions. This is hence, one of the most common congenital diseases of the heart.

Many infants who have a very small hole do not show heart-related symptoms. However, infants with medium or large VSD can develop heart failure. If a child complains of exhaustion or loss of breath, if he/she tries to run or play, then it could be a symptom of the defect.

What is VSD?
The right and left ventricles of the heart are not separate before the baby is born. Inside the mother’s womb as the foetus grows, a wall forms to separate these two ventricles. In cases where the wall does not completely form due to a defect, a hole remains. This hole is known as a ventricular septal defect. So mostly, it is a birth defect (congenital).