Thursday, August 6, 2009

Patent Foramen Ovale

Yesterday, I had an echocardiogram and something called a "bubble". To do a bubble, you have an iv put in your arm and bubbles are injected into the iv four different times: the first time you are just injected with the bubbles, the second time they inject the bubbles while you cough, the third time they inject the bubbles while you sniff and the fourth time they inject the bubbles while you bear down. If the bubbles go from one side of your heart to the other then you know there is a hole in your heart.

The results were yesterday that I do have a hole in my heart that is called a Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO. A PFO is less risky to have than atrial septal defect (what my primary care physician sent me to the cardiologist to be tested for). I don't have atrial septal defect nor mitrovalve prolapse (the second thing the primary care physician wanted me tested for).

The PFO is what is causing my migraines because the flap of tissue that normally closes shut over the PFO (which everyone has in the womb) at birth comes open on my heart and allows blood and hormones and body gasses to escape up to my brain. I am not allowed to go scuba diving ever and if I take long trips in the car or by plane I absolutely have to get up and walk around because if I get a blood clot it could go to my brain and cause a stroke. The biggest concern with PFO's is that they make you more susceptible to stroke. I'm not happy about that but of what it could have been, that's not as terrible.

For now, the doctor wants me to see my primary care physician and get on beta blockers and another med to keep stress hormones away from my heart and to see if that causes my migraines to go away. If it does, great. If it doesn't, when the doctor sees me again in a year he will enter me in a study where they will put in the umbrella that closes the hole. The catch is, I won't know for a year if they actually closed the hole or if they just pretended to close it. After a year's time, the results of the study get released and if you actually didn't have the umbrella put in, then the company pays for you to get the procedure done.

I have mixed feelings about the results. While I am happy not to have atrial septal defect, now I worry about whether I should petition to get the hole closed right away.


  1. do what makes you comfortable. honestly. i spent quite a lot of time with my weird blood thing because i didn't get all balsy about wanting to have them goaheadandripoutthedamnspleenalready. it would have saved me a lot of pain, and possibly a miscarriage had i just gone with my gut feelings on that one.

  2. i don't know why bloglines isn't updating your feed so i'm going to unsub and try again.

    that said, wow, that's alot of news. take some days to dwell on it, do some research and the do as robiewankenobie suggests - what makes you comfortable. do what feels right for you to do.