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Patent ductus arteriosus – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by

The ductus arteriosus is a fetal blood vessel connecting the pulmonary artery to the descending aorta. In patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), the opening of the ductus (lumen) doesn’t close after birth as it should.

If the hole remains open, blood flow will skip the lungs, and the baby’s blood will not receive any oxygen.

PDA may close on its own, but if it doesn’t, it may need surgical intervention.

Known symptoms, risk factors for patent ductus arteriosus

A small-sized PDA will not show any symptoms and may go unnoticed; however, a large-sized PDA can lead to serious complications such as heart failure.

A large PDA found during infancy or childhood may also cause:

  • Poor eating habits
  • Sweating with crying or eating
  • Shortness of breath or breathlessness
  • Lethargy
  • A rapid heart rate

It is particularly common in preterm babies with respiratory distress syndrome. PDA is more common in girls than boys.

Other risk factors include:

  • Infants with genetic disorders such as Down syndrome
  • Infants whose mothers had rubella infection during pregnancy
  • A family history of PDA
  • The presence of other heart conditions like hypoplastic left heart syndrome and pulmonary stenosis

Body systems harmed by patent ductus arteriosus

Most cases of PDA are diagnosed and treated soon after birth – the condition rarely goes undetected into adulthood. If it does, however, it can cause several health problems. Untreated adult PDA can lead to complications, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Endocarditis, which is the inflammation of the lining of the heart

In very serious cases of untreated adult PDA, extra blood flow can increase the size of the heart. This could weaken the heart and its ability to pump blood, which can lead to congestive heart failure and death.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent patent ductus arteriosus

PDA is a congenital heart condition; therefore, no food items or nutrients that may help prevent PDA. However, the following foods and nutrients can support heart health:

  • Berries like blueberries and strawberries are rich in heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber.
  • Dark chocolate, at least those that are 70 percent cocoa, is good for your heart health.
  • Flaxseeds contain omega-3s, fiber, and phytoestrogens to boost heart health.
  • Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids – including herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna – are good for the heart.
  • Fruits are rich in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
  • Green vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, contain vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium and fiber which support heart health.
  • Red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as oranges, cantaloupes and papaya; and carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and squash are packed with carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins. Tomatoes also provide lycopene, vitamin C and alpha- and beta-carotene.
  • A 4-ounce glass of red wine can help improve good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Treatments, management options for patent ductus arteriosus

Treatments for PDA depend on the age of the patient. In premature babies with PDA, the hole often closes on its own. For full-term babies, children, and adults with small PDAs that aren’t immediate causes of concern, monitoring may be all that’s needed.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may be used to help close a PDA. Take note that NSAIDs have been associated with adverse side effects.

If medications aren’t effective, surgical intervention may be needed to close the PDA.

There are also homeopathic treatments available for PDA.

Where to learn more


The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects the pulmonary artery to the aorta. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) refers to the opening of the ductus which remains open after birth when it’s supposed to close.

PDA often doesn’t show any symptoms and may only need consistent monitoring. It rarely goes undetected until adulthood, but in such cases, it can lead to serious complications like heart failure.

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