An atrioventricular channel defect is a combination of heart problems that lead to a defect in the center of the heart. The condition occurs when there is a hole between the chambers of the heart and there are problems with the valves that regulate blood flow in the heart.

Sometimes called an endocardial cushion defect or atrioventricular septal defect, an atrioventricular canal defect is present at birth (congenital). The disease is often associated with Down syndrome.

A defect in the atrioventricular duct allows extra blood to flow to the lungs. The extra blood overloads the heart, causing the heart muscle to enlarge.

An untreated atrioventricular channel defect can lead to heart failure and high blood pressure in the lungs. Doctors usually recommend surgery within the first year of life to close the hole in the heart and rebuild the valves.

An atrioventricular canal abnormality can affect only the upper two chambers of the heart (partially) or all four chambers (completely). In both types, extra blood circulates in the lungs.

Complete atrioventricular channel abnormality
Signs and symptoms usually develop in the first few weeks of life. These signs and symptoms are generally similar to those associated with heart failure and can include:

Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
Loss of appetite
Little weight gain
Pale skin color

The reasons
Chambers and heart valves
Ventricles and Valves Open Popup Dialog An atrioventricular channel abnormality is shown
Atrioventricular Channel Anomaly Open popup dialog
An atrioventricular channel defect occurs before birth, when a baby’s heart is developing. Certain factors, such as Down syndrome, can increase the risk of atrioventricular channel abnormalities. However, the cause is generally unknown.

The heart that works normally
The heart is divided into four chambers, two on the right and two on the left.

The right side of your heart moves blood through the vessels that lead to the lungs. Oxygen enriches the blood there. The oxygen-rich blood returns to the left side of your heart and is pumped into a large vessel (aorta) that circulates the blood to the rest of your body.

Risk factors
Factors that can increase a baby’s risk of developing an atrioventricular channel defect before birth include:

Down syndrom
German measles (rubella) or other viral diseases in a mother’s early pregnancy
Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy
Poorly controlled diabetes during pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy

An atrioventricular channel defect usually cannot be avoided.

Heredity can play a role in some heart defects. If you have a family history of heart defects, or if you already have a child with a congenital heart defect, talk to a genetic counselor and cardiologist before getting pregnant again.

Vaccination with the rubella vaccine was one of the most effective prevention strategies against congenital heart defects.

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