Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital condition characterised by a hole or an abnormal opening in the wall in between the heart’s two upper chambers (the right and left atria). The condition causes oxygen-rich blood to leak, displacing blood that needs oxygen in the process. Patients with small to moderate-sized defects typically do not suffer from any symptoms while those with larger, more severe ASDs suffer from fatigue, poor growth, and lung infections, among others.
ASD, regardless of its severity, puts the patient at risk of more serious complications that can develop later in life including atrial arrhythmia, stroke, and pulmonary hypertension. Thus, many paediatric cardiologists often recommend the closure of ASD early in childhood. The procedure requires advanced surgical skills as well as modern medical technology and facility, which may not be readily available in many parts of the world.
Patients who do not have easy access to advanced, high-quality ASD treatment in their home country may consider travelling to Southeast Asia, which is home to Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. These countries are now considered medical tourism hubs attracting patients not just from within the region but also from as far as Western countries. They are now among the favourite medical tourism destinations because of their impressive medical infrastructure, advanced diagnostics and therapeutic technologies, and globally recognised hospitals. Many of these hospitals are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) and International Standards Organisation (ISO) for their ability to provide world-class specialist care that meets international Standards.
In addition, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia are home to highly qualified paediatric cardiologists many of whom have studied and trained in Western countries. Despite the quality of care they provide, these specialists as well as dedicated children hospitals in Southeast Asia charge just a fraction of the cost of ASD repair in the West.