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What medications are used to treat an atrial septal defect (ASD)?

While medicines cannot cure an atrial septal defect, they may be used to control symptoms until the hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart either closes on its own or until it can be closed using a catheter-based or surgical procedure. Four main medication-based strategies are typically prescribed to manage the symptoms of an atrial septal defect:

  • Diuretics. These medicines cause you to pass more urine. This results in a smaller blood volume and, therefore, a smaller burden on the heart to pump. The most commonly prescribed diuretics are Lasix (furosemide) and Diuril and Hydrodiuril (thiazides). Another commonly used diuretic is Aldactone (spiranolactone). It has a weak diuretic effect and is mainly used because it helps the kidneys retain potassium.
  • Inotropes, including digoxin, help the heart pump more efficiently.  
  • Anticoagulants, such as warfarin and aspirin, thin the blood and help reduce the risk of blood clots, which can cause stroke.
  • Afterload-reducing agents, including captopril, are infrequently used in the treatment of atrial septal defect. They reduce the resistance of blood flow to the body. This leads to less blood crossing the atrial septal defect, thereby reducing congestive heart failure.
Dr. Poorna L. Nalabothu, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Poorna Nalabothu, MD, with Heart Center at St. Mark's, speaks about medications used to treat abnormal heart rhythms and blood clots can be used to treat an atrial septal defect (ASD). Watch to see more.

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