Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is an atrial septal aneurysm? "
My husband was diagnosed with atrial septal aneurysm. I know he's at risk for stroke. What does this diagnosis mean and what should our next steps be?
This is a question for your husband to discuss with his cardiologist. An atrial septal aneurysm is a very common abnormality in which part of the wall separating the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) bulges outward in an unusual way. You are definitely correct that this abnormality is often found in people who have had strokes. However, it is also very commonly found in people who have never had strokes and in fact never go on to have strokes either. Often times, it is found "incidentally" when an echocardiogram (ultrasound) of the heart is performed for another reason. Many people with an atrial septal aneurysm will also have a small communication (blood flow) between the two atria. For this reason, sometimes an additional study, referred to as a "bubble study", which is a special type of echocardiogram, may be performed to rule this out. The exact treatment of an atrial septal defect depends a lot on the opinion of your husband's cardiologist and his overall health. For example, if your husband has already had a stroke, then anticoagulation with blood thinners may be indicated to prevent another stroke. Alternatively, if there is a small communication of blood flow found between the two atria, then sometimes this will be closed with a small device. On the other hand, if your husband is entirely well, his cardiologist may just choose to watch this closely. Again, he should talk with his cardiologist. Best of luck.
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