Understanding Heart Defects

Some people are born with problems with their heart. Called congenital defects, these problems do not correct themselves over time. Two common congenital heart defects are atrial septal defect (ASD) and patent foramen ovale (PFO).

Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the septum, the muscle that separates the heart’s two upper chambers, or atria. An ASD larger than 2 centimeters creates a risk of an enlarged heart, abnormal health rhythms, stroke, high blood pressure and leaky valves.

Patent foramen ovale is a type of ASD. The foramen ovale is a hole in the septum that helps deliver oxygen to a fetus in its mother’s womb. This hole normally closes after birth; when it does not, the condition is called patent foramen ovale.

How are heart defects treated?

Depending on symptoms, treatment for atrial septal defects may include medication to prevent blood clots or a procedure to close the hole, including:

  • Nonsurgical (percutaneous) repair, which involves inserting a device through a catheter to seal the hole
  • Minimally invasive surgery to close the hole with a patch of tissue or stitches.

Cardiac Care at Guthrie

  • Board-certified cardiology specialist: Guthrie non-invasive and interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists and cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgeons are specially trained in cardiovascular care and are board-certified.
  • Guthrie Heart and Vascular Care Center, located in Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, is a state-of-the-art space for heart and vascular testing and treatment. Located near the emergency department and ICU, there are private patient rooms, cardiac catheterization labs, and a hybrid operating room. The unit is centered around quick efficient care of our patients.
  • Hybrid operating room: the cardiac and vascular team can perform imaging studies in the sterile environment of the operating room. Patients do not need to move to another location in the hospital once a procedure has started. Additionally, having the ability to switch from minimally invasive to open procedures, if necessary, keeps the patient in the same room if the surgical team needs to change its approach. The cardiac team can diagnose as well as perform cardiovascular interventions in one room.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation: programs in four locations: Guthrie Healthworks in Corning; Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital; Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital; and Troy Community Hospital.

Guthrie heart surgeons are part of the largest cardiac care team in the northern Pa. and southern N.Y. Your heart is in good hands at Guthrie.

Guthrie interventional cardiology has advanced training in cardiac catheterization, performing ablation, stenting, angioplasty other structural heart procedures.