Pediatric Complete Atrioventricular Septal Defects Medication

Updated: Sep 13, 2019
  • Author: Michael D Pettersen, MD; Chief Editor: Syamasundar Rao Patnana, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

Medical treatment of complete atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) is similar to treatment of any cardiac defect with volume overload. Digoxin is frequently used to decrease the heart rate and to increase inotropy, although little evidence (if any) suggests that it is effective in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) due to left-to-right shunt lesions. At the present time, it is not the first line of therapy. Diuretics may decrease preload and ACE inhibitors decrease afterload. Care must be taken when administering ACE inhibitors to reproductive-age females, given their teratogenic effects. More recent, but limited, data suggest that the use of beta blockers in patients with left-to-right shunts who have CHF improves symptoms. [41]

The daily dosage of digoxin is approximately 5-10 mcg/kg/d. The diuretic used most frequently in the author's institution is furosemide 1-2 mg/kg/d. In children with clinical signs of CHF, 58% improved with enalapril. The mean maximal dose was 0.3 mg/kg/d. The most significant adverse effect observed was renal failure, particularly in young infants with large left-to-right shunts. Most of the older patients in the author's institution who need ACE inhibitors are treated with lisinopril because of its lower cost and long half-life. The dose generally is 0.5 mg/kg/d, but is individualized for each patient. Data about the efficacy of beta-blockers in patients with large left-to-right shunts is sparse. In small studies, beta-blockers appear to decrease renin levels and heart rates in infants with CHF due to left-to-right shunts.

Antibiotics for endocarditis prophylaxis are no longer recommended for most patients with congenital heart disease. Some significant exceptions are noted, including patients who have previously had endocarditis or patients within 6 months of their surgical repair. Current American Heart Association guidelines also recommend subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE) prophylaxis for patients who have a complete repair and those who have a jet lesion aimed at a patch to impair the growth of endothelial cells on the patch. [42] This situation may occur in patients with atrioventricular septal defects and can only be discovered by the use of imaging modalities such as echocardiography.


Inotropic agents

Class Summary

The agents provide symptomatic improvement for CHF. Positive inotropic agents increase the force of contraction of the myocardium and are used to treat acute and chronic CHF. Positive or negative chronotropic agents may also increase or decrease the heart rate, provide vasodilatation, or improve myocardial relaxation. These additional properties influence the choice of drug for specific circumstances.

Digoxin (Lanoxicaps, Lanoxin)

Acts directly on cardiac muscle, increasing myocardial systolic contractions. Indirect actions increase carotid sinus nerve activity and enhance sympathetic withdrawal for any given increase in mean arterial pressure.


Diuretic agents

Class Summary

These agents provide symptomatic improvement for CHF and promote the excretion of water and electrolytes by the kidneys. They are indicated to treat heart failure or hepatic, renal, or pulmonary disease when sodium and water retention has resulted in edema or ascites.

Furosemide (Lasix)

Increases excretion of water by interfering with chloride-binding cotransport system, which inhibits sodium and chloride reabsorption in ascending loop of Henle and distal renal tubule.


ACE inhibitors

Class Summary

These drugs are indicated for treatment of symptomatic CHF. ACE inhibitors are beneficial in all stages of chronic heart failure. Pharmacologic effects result in a decrease in systemic vascular resistance, reducing blood pressure, preload, and afterload.

Captopril (Capoten)

Short-acting ACE inhibitor. Predominant action is suppressing the renin-angiotensin aldosterone system. Prevents conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II (potent vasoconstrictor), increasing levels of plasma renin and reducing aldosterone secretion.

Enalapril (Vasotec)

Competitive ACE inhibitor. Reduces angiotensin II levels, decreasing aldosterone secretion.

Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)

Prevents conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II (potent vasoconstrictor), reducing aldosterone secretion.