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Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

A ventricular septal defect (VSD), a hole in the heart, is a common congenital heart defect that occurs in the septum that separates the heart’s ventricles and allows blood to pass from the left to the right side of the heart. The oxygen-rich blood then gets pumped back to the lungs instead of out to the body, causing the heart to work harder.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of VSD depend on the size of the hole and where it is located. When the opening between the ventricles is large, oxygen-containing blood flows backwards into the right ventricle instead of out into the body. This inefficient blood flow causes the heart to pump harder, trying to compensate.

As a result, the heart may become enlarged and high blood pressure may develop in the arteries of the lungs causing pulmonary hypertension. A person with a large VSD may experience shortness of breath, fatigue and weakness.

If the defect is small, the only symptom abnormality is usually is a loud murmur, caused by the blood flowing backwards into the right ventricle.


Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) often cause a heart murmur that a Deborah physician can hear using a stethoscope. If the doctor hears a heart murmur or finds other signs or symptoms of a heart defect, he or she may order several tests including:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Pulse oximetry