PFO closure and recovery information

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cs33
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 10/23/2009 8:26 AM (GMT -6)   
yes it has been a very scary expierence, I often then if I should have done it. I dont really have chest "pain" but LOTS of pressure and tightness....it seems to be happening more the last couple of days, yes when I lay down especially. I dont see why that has to be so "normal" for this! Keep me update on what your doctor says and I'll do the same! since I went yesterday as of right now I dont go back till Nov. 10th. Hope things start getting better for ya!!

anwahs
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 10/23/2009 8:21 PM (GMT -6)   
Just left the hospital and my sister in law had a heart cath, i told them about my PFO they checked for it in her and OMG she has a big one. shes having a TEE on Monday. She has been having TIA's for a year now. The doctors said it was acid reflux....thank god the doctor humored her so to speak....unreal!!! yes I will definantly keep you  posted.

mandi2cool
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/20/2009 7:20 PM (GMT -6)   
HI
 
I am a new member, a 19 year old female.  I was diagnosed with a small-moderate sized PFO in April.  Prior to this, I had been having constant headache's (24/7-365) with miagraines about 5 times a month.  I had also been having sharp shooting chest pain that caused me to double over and pay attention to how I slept at night.  I also started getting dizzy/lightheaded all the time with no apparant reason.  I have been to two cardiologists now that are both in favor of waiting to close the PFO after more research has been done.  I had an MRI, EKG, Echo, and a TEE but they still didnt want to do anything, even after showing the vast communication between the two chambers.  So for the quick fix, they agreed on 81mg of Asprin a day and have pretty much let me be.  However, I am still having the chest pains and contstant headaches/numerous miagraines after being put on a handful of different meds to "help" with this-so far nothing has worked.  I am a college athlete, and sometimes the chest pains/miagraines get so bad that they interfere with training and performance, and even with school. (Going to class with a miagraine just isnt a good time)
 
I guess overall, I am just looking for opinions on whether to close or not to close.  I just want the symptoms to go away for good.  Any help would be appriciated.  Thanks so much
 
mandi2cool

missmac66
New Member


Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 12/23/2009 4:07 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi, I am a 43 year old female and new to this forum. I had 2 TIA's in july 09 and after extensive investigations a large PFO has been found. I am seeing a cardiologist on dec 31st to discuss this but the dr who did the bubble study said that it definitely needed closing.
I am absolutely petrified but at the same time glad to find out what caused the TIA's. The only knowldege I have so far is what I have gleaned from the internet as the dr rushed off for his lunch without even removing the canular, which was only successfully inserted on the 6th attempt!!
How long have people had to be off work after the procedure? I have had a fair amount of time off this year already & am hoping that this will not take out too much more time.
Be healthy & happy xx

loopie53
New Member


Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 12/25/2009 11:31 PM (GMT -6)   
I am 38 and just 4 weeks past a PFO closure. I am amazed at what I am reading, as these are exactly the symptoms that I was experiencing! Migraines with visual auras, mini strokes (is there such a thing as a MINI?) and so many tests done that I thought there were no more to do..... After multiple surgeries concerning other things, I was diagnosed with the PFO and my neurologist sent me right to the cardiologist for the closure. It all happened so fast that I hardly had time to contemplate it all. I have since made one "flight" back to the ER, (the day after my OUTPATIENT surgery,) and have been battling with the stabbing pressure in my chest as well. I have been woken up from sleep with it, have been nagged ever since by it, and am now walking around with a heart monitor to see just what my beating heart is up to during these trying times. I am awaiting the "official" reading of the monitor results from the cardiologist, and have not returned to work yet. I was optimistic to get back to work after just a few weeks, but since I'm responsible for so many others at my job they don't want to chance anything by letting me come back until ALL the dust has cleared, so both my cardiologist and my neurologist have to give me the final ok to return. To others that are considering it, all I can say is most all of my symptoms are gone. I do, however, occasionally experience my migraines with the aura, namely as I was being wheeled out of the hospital after the closure and also the day afterwards. I'm not sure wether to contribute that to stress or what, but I can't say I'm migraine- free just yet. I have been battling near seizure-like activities since before the closure, and most have subsided since. Not all. Overall I feel wonderful! ....if they could just figure out why this POUNDING heart is doing all it's POUNDING........ hmmm.... I'll keep you posted!

chi town girl
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 1/10/2010 3:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello, I am new to the site and to the congenital heart defect "club"! I know I have had this since birth and that 25% of people probably share this defect with me, but it is weird to all of a sudden be included in the club... but after reading, this seems like a pretty good group of people to be associated with!

Thanks to everyone who has posted such good information on PFO closure!

While I am new to the site, I'm not new to the symptoms that are leading me to consider PFO closure. I have bad migraines, seizure-like, for almost 24 years and TIA's for the last few years. Now my doctors cannot decide if my medium-to-large sized PFO should be closed.

Can I ask you who have had closure:
- do you still have migraines? If so, how often, and how bad, and how soon after closure did they start again? Have you had TIA again?
- how do you feel after closure? can you do all the things you did before? more? less?
- have you had side effects? if so, what are they? afib? rapid heart beat? blood clots? pain?


Thanks again for all your help. I am scared of this whole "putting a dual umbrella into your heart for the rest of your life" and am trying to decide if it is right for me...

Hope the new year is a good one for everyone here! Thanks for having me in the club...

mghnn23
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 1/14/2010 12:49 PM (GMT -6)   

Hey Everyone!

 

I had a PFO closure on Monday January 11, 2010.  In March I suffered a car accident in which I broke my neck and my wrist.  In June,  I lost 30% of my vision in my right eye due to an inferior branch retinal arterial occlusion.  It is still unclear whether or not the clot was left over from the surgeries in March or possibly due to oral contraceptive. In August I had a syncope episode in which I fell and broke my nose.  This trip to the E.R is where I met my cardiologist.

            She first suggested I see a neurologist to eliminate any other possible problems.  This turned out to be fine.  She next ordered an echocardiogram to be done with a bubble test.  This is where the PFO was discovered. A TEE was then performed to see the exact location and size of the PFO. 

            Experiences:

Echo: doesn’t hurt at all. The tech will have you breathe in and out and hold it for clear pictures, while holding an ultrasound probe around your heart.  For a bubble test, you will have an IV and a saline solution will be injected and you will be asked to tighten your abdominal muscles.

TEE: This test was not a lot of fun…at all.  The procedure begins with numbing your throat.  I began with gargling a solution in the back of my throat (be sure not to let this touch your tongue!). Then a spray was applied to the back of my throat.  Once this has been done you will have to consciously swallow every bit of spit in your throat or you will accidently inhale it and a coughing spree will occur.  I was then given pain medicine to relax me and some of that “forgetful” solution during the actual insertion of the tube.  The procedure it self is very short and quick.

            The PFO closure,  I was given many pain relievers and again some of that la la forgetful stuff, but I was able to watch the entire procedure.  Of course I could have easily fallen asleep. The procedure itself didn’t really hurt except right afterwards I would suggest not trying to sit up at all and lie as flat as you can.  If you do you may feel a tight chest pain or as some people have described it a “stuck chicken bone” feeling.  For me after about five hours I didn’t feel anything else in my chest.  It is three days later now, and I do have a local pain at the incision site.  It throbs from time to time, but nothing unmanageable.  The only thing I have experienced is dizziness.  I am not sure if this is from the plavix and aspirin they have me on or just tired from the whole ordeal. Also, no heavy lifting or exercising for a while.

            I didn’t have migraines though so I cannot comment on that, but I am glad my chances of any occlusions or strokes in the future have diminished a lot.  Plus, I can scuba dive now without any complicationsJ. Oh, and the second echo after the procedure you can see the little double umbrella or figure eight just perfectly. I didn't have any inflammation or anything around the site...it's just part of me now.


wildchild42
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/6/2010 6:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi,
 
I'm 18 and was wondering if there was anyone who has had a stroke as young and is having a TEE and could tell me about it. Does it hurt? How long after you have had it will they tell you they can close the PFO. What happens if they can't close it. How long does the TEE take. Do you have to stay in hospital after closer. how long before you can get back to normal. Do the headaches after a stroke get any better. Do they go away after closer. What are the risks of closer.
 
Thanks

Mark in Denver
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/18/2010 2:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone -
 
I had a PFO closure two days ago on February 16, 2010.
 
I chose the PFO closure to prevent me from having more strokes.  I had a mild stroke in November 2005 and another in November 2009.  In 2005, my neurologist recommended a PFO closure after performing the TEE procedure.  I was 47 years old at the time and he wanted me to enroll in a blind study where I would either receive the PFO closure or take coumadin to support study results.  That didn't sound too fascinating at the time and I felt confident that I would be okay.  After my second stroke, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the PFO closure and researched many web sites ... including this newsgroup which I found extremely helpful.
 
The cardiologist that I chose (wonderful!) also educated me about the procedure including that there are "no promises" of preventing future strokes.  The team at Rocky Mountain Cardiologists were simply the best!  This procedure is regularly performed and the catheter lab was well equipped.  The doctor chose the AGA Medical Corp's Amplatzer Occluder to close my PFO.  It is a very soft/pliable one piece device that was easily inserted in the PFO (the cardiologist had a "sample" device that he showed me).  Mentally, for that reason alone, I don't feel like there is anything solid or uncomfortable inside my heart.
 
The procedure was very comfortable.  I don't care who you are ... you gotta love that wonderful, magic "cocktail" that you get!  As others have said, I was not fully asleep but could have easily done so.  I did not have a TEE during the procedure but was able to watch the insertion of the Occluder into the PFO on a screen in the cath lab.  It was amazing to watch!  I did not feel a thing.  The cardiologist talked to me during the procedure but I don't remember much of that.  After removing the catheter pressure was applied to the area for several minutes and then a large, clear patch was put over the entire area.  Honestly, the area where the catheter was inserted was no bigger around than a pencil.  I did have to lie still for 3 hours but was up after that and then discharged to go home.
 
The absolute worse part of the whole procedure was the following day when I pulled that large, clear patch off while taking a shower.  I'm sure the neighbors heard me.  I have some bruising around the groin area and (no kidding) a big red area after I jerked that patch off (LOL).  I have used no pain medications.  Someone said that they couldn't sleep on their side after the procedure ... I thought about that (like pinching the device or something) and then convinced myself that I was nutz and have had no trouble sleeping on my side after that.  The doctor has prescribed Plavix for 6 months and a lifetime of aspirin.  I don't have a check up for 4 weeks so I'm sure the doc is pretty confident that I did well.
 
So far, I can't tell you how happy/glad I am that I chose to have the procedure done.  I will add more comments as time goes by.  Thanks again to everyone who has added their notes.  It really helped when I was preparing for the precedure.

Mark in Denver
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 2/19/2010 1:24 PM (GMT -6)   
wildchild42 said...
Hi,
 
I'm 18 and was wondering if there was anyone who has had a stroke as young and is having a TEE and could tell me about it. Does it hurt? How long after you have had it will they tell you they can close the PFO. What happens if they can't close it. How long does the TEE take. Do you have to stay in hospital after closer. how long before you can get back to normal. Do the headaches after a stroke get any better. Do they go away after closer. What are the risks of closer.
 
Thanks
 
Hi wildchild42 ...
 
I am sorry to hear that you have had a stroke at your young age.  You are so lucky that medical procedures are so advanced today.  You have several important questions that you need answered, and like all the rest of us in this newsgroup, you just need to find a cardiologist that your are comfortable and confident with.
 
I am happy to share my personal experience which is the same as others in this newsgroup have described.  A TEE is really no fun at all but is certainly tolerable.  I have had two endoscopy procedures prior to the TEE so I had already experienced having a small tube inserted down into my stomach.  The TEE is not too different than that except that the ultrasound device is position right behind the heart for a clearer "picture" of the heart than an echocardiogram.  While the device is in position, aggitated saline is injected ... you can actually see the bubbles in your heart ... then you are asked to cough ... if you have a PFO you will see the bubbles shoot through the hole into the other chamber of your heart.
 
As someone said, you throat is sprayed with (my term) a "paralyzer drug" because you just have no gag reflex at all -- which is pretty important.  The doc gives some of that good "cocktail" drug so you are uncomfortable but you really don't care too much.  The procedure itself only takes a few minutes -- and the good news is that the whole video is kept of file these days so I did not have to repeat the procedure when I chose the cardiology team to do the procedure.
 
After an in-depth consultation with the cardiologist, he agreed to perform the procedure right away.  I personally had to wait two months for my insurance company to pre-approve the procedure.  The cardiologist was great and he worked with the insurance company and had a peer-to-peer review with the insurance company's doctor(s) to review my case and eventually I was approved for the procedure.  I don't know where you are located but I am in Denver and am lucky to have been referred to an excellent team of doctors who are dedicated to healing people every day.  When scheduling the procedure I was told "the doctor does this procedure every Tuesday afternoon."  Well, its not just the doctor but the whole team of doctors, nurses, etc. in the catheter lab that are practiced to do this and many other procedures.  While being prepped in the cath lab for the procedure, a "new member" to the team asked "what procedure are we performing this time."  The head guy said "Dr Rubenstein is doing a PFO closure today -- watch -- he can do this with his eyes closed."  The procedure took less than one hour.  Before leaving the cath lab, pressure was applied to the area where the small catheter was inserted and covered with a clear patch.  I had no bleeding after that.  I rested for three hours in a nice recovery room, walked for 15 minutes or so and then was released to go home.  No lifting over 10 pounds for a couple of weeks and no aerobic exercise for three weeks.  I have a desk job and could have gone back to work in as little as two days .. otherwise one week off work was recommended to me.
 
I hope this helps.

no. 1 girly
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 0
   Posted 3/20/2010 1:47 PM (GMT -6)   
Directed to Mark in Denver... how are you recovering after your closure... i am scheduled in april.

kaiborder
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/22/2010 3:35 PM (GMT -6)   
I am scheduled for PFO closure in April tho my insurance has denied it. Hoping my doc's appeal will go through since I have had multiple multiple strokes already.

AEV1970
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/27/2010 7:44 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Industry.  Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences.  In the process of deciding whether to have this surgery and strongly leaning towards doing so.   I am a 39 years old mom of three little children and I had a stroke a month ago after scelerotherapy for a varicose vein.  I was pretty active, healthy, and I guess a little vain as I approach 40 and looked down and saw my mom's blue-lined legs.  Vascular doctor thinks it is unlikely that the theraputic clotting had anything to do with my stroke, but the cardiologists consider it likely.  On blood thinners now and feeling better.  Didn't know I had a PFO--honestly didn't know exactly what a stroke was before this all happened to me.  Looking back now I see I probably had a TIA last year but thought I was overtired or coming down with the flu.  I also had many occular migraines while pregnant--no pain just visual disturbances that the OB/GYN office suggested was hormonal.  (Note to self: Get new OB/GYN)  Bubble test in hospital was postive for what was described as a small, subtle PFO.  I live 5 minutes away from a top hospital with a pediatric center that specializes in PFO Closures.  To be fair, the neurologists and cardiologists did mention many people are walking around wih PFOs but they were concerned that having had an event, the fear of another would be a dark cloud hanging over me.  I am a celiac so living on blood thinners isn't too attractive; I have a restricted diet and balancing nutrients and INR is already turning into a nightmare for the past month.  The physicians recommend a Biostar device for my closure.  While they made mention of the Amplatzer as another device they use, this was not suggested for my surgery.  I mentioned I have a contact nickel allergy; something they said would be less of an issue with the Biostar---but your comment about industry standard makes me wonder about the many other devices and if I should get yet another opinion.  Also, I should mention I just found out that a member of my husband's extended family had a PFO occluder put in over 20 years ago--she had it done after a massive stroke and was one of the first people to receive this implant.  It was an umbrella-like occluder, maybe even an early Biostar and she has raised three children and is healthy and active.  Just thought you all might like to know that there is some good long term results and I am sure that many of you miay be wondering what happens in 20-30 years after implant.
 
Industry22 said...
I wouldn't worry about it.  Serious device related complications usually occur within the first 6 months.  After 6 months-1 year the devices have sufficiently grown into the tissue and chances for perforations, dislocations, and fractures becomes almost non-existant.  Small heart flutters can occur, but if they're not consistant, I wouldnt' worry about them.  Considering they can occur in people without devices as well. 
 
To the nursing mom.  Finish up your nursing and then discuss closure.  This is an optional procedure.  You can take the medication or you can implant a device.  If your medication (Coumadin) isn't bothering you at this point, finish your nursing and then discuss closure options later, with your Cardiologist.  Amplatzer should be your first choice of device if you decide to implant one, it is the industry standard at this point.  Helex is also a good system as well with less metal, but the system is more complex, so make sure your cardiologist has a long experience implanting it... 3-5 years. 

jwillis
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/5/2010 5:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I am a new member to this forum and thought I would post my story so it might help someone else who has a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), Atrial Septal Aneurism (ASA), or resulting stroke(s). As I write this, I am currently at home recovering from a PFO/ASA repair three days ago. I am a 49 year old male. On Valentine's Day morning, I woke up with my head spinning like crazy. It was actually, just stopping spinning as I got up and went into the bathroom to collect my composure and see if I was OK. I immediately broke out into a complete sweat and soaked the floor. I wasn't sure what was happening so I washed my face and dried off and went back to bed. I was very dizzy and started throwing up. I ended up spending all day in bed, because if I got up out of bed, I would get terribly nauseated and throw up. I just thought that I had the flu because I had felt weak all week long. I just couldn't get going and work hard in the weight room on both days that I went there, and I also felt exhausted on my morning runs and bike rides. I am a triathlete and work out twice a day on weekdays and run or bike up to three hours on each weekend day. My wife and I had also begun attending a mixed martial arts class three times a week, and I had just piled this workout on top of everything else I was already doing. This added up to three workouts a day sometimes and at times I was beginning to realize that I was going way too hard. The only reason that I didn't go for a two-hour run on Valentine's Day is because I woke up sick with my head spinning. The spinning "spell" was like a seizure, in that I lost body control of my arms and legs and fell around like a rag doll. I was miserable and tried to sleep but kept having nightmares. At about 2:30 am, I started hearing buzzing in my ears and had another spinning attack/seizure. It felt like a ring of fire spinning around my head. I remember thinking that if this was Satan's version of hell, that this would work. I ended up staying in bed all day Monday as well, assuming that I had the flu and that it had attacked my inner ear, causing the dizziness. I stayed in bed another day, then when I began feeling stronger, I went to my PCP for a checkup and he ordered an MRI after hearing about my symptoms of sea sickness and pyschotic thoughts that continued even after I got up and stayed awake. To make a long story short, the MRI came back positive for stroke in two places, or two strokes...I'm not sure which...I definitely had two stroke-like events or seizures. This lead to an appt with a neurologist, who prescribed two weeks of tests...bloodwork, CAT scan, x-ray, TTE heart echo, carotid doppler test, etc. and eventually a TEE which showed that I had a PFO and ASA. After those were diagnosed, he referred me to an interventional cardiologist. It is interesting to note that I had already been taking an adult aspirin each morning for over a year after having some funny feeling heartbeat rhythms about a year and a half ago, which I think may have been due to drinking caffeine each afternoon to stay sharp at work. After I quit drinking caffeine, the strong heartbeats went away. The cardiologist explained the debates and risks about PFO repair, and future limitations, recovery, etc., if I decided to have it fixed. He said it was my decision, of course, but I had already had one or possibly two strokes, and had failed aspirin therapy. So, I had the procedure last week. The cardiologist used the catheter procedure up my leg and installed an Amplatzer occluder in the atrial septum. After the procedure, he said that the hole was a "medium" sized hole of about 4mm. He had planned to use a 30mm device for the patch, but during the procedure discovered it would be too big, so he used a 25mm device. He said my atrial septum is thinner than normal, so using a big patch like this is supposed to help support the atrial septum and keep it from "waving" open as much. The PFO is the hole, but the ASA is a bulging of the thin flaps that make up the two sides of the atrium. The procedure went very smooth. I was very nervous, but the doctors gave me a lot of the Versaid to "get me to stop talking" and help me settle down. I was fine with this, because I didn't want to be very awake anyway! They used both an x-ray machine and TEE scope to monitor their progress as they installed the occluder. The only hard part of the procedure for me was the recovery...the nurses tied my right leg down to the bed with a folded up thin blanket and put it under my left leg and between the mattresses on both sides to hold it and my right leg down. I had to lay still in this position for 24-hours so the cathether insertion point in my right leg would heal and not bleed, plus, they said it was to help keep the device from becoming dislodged in the first 24 hours. I'm not so sure that the device was apt to move, but the nurse told me this, I think, to keep me from trying to get up during the night. Sitting in this single position was miserable, plus I just could not make myself relax enough to pee into the urinal they gave me. I have always had urinal shyness, and this felt like I was peeing the bed. We are all taught not to wet the bed and I just could not overcome this. Anyway, morning finally came and I was able to get up and go to the bathroom and completely empty my bladder which helped a lot. Once I could get up and move around and sit in a chair, I started feeling much better. Now it's been three days since the surgery and I am feeling really good...almost normal. I was pretty weak and lethargic for two days after the procedure. My leg is healing well...just a little bit of bruising and a bump where the catheter was inserted. The cardiologist said not to exercise for a week, then I could start light walking and very light cycling, then begin building up to light jogging with no jarring or "shocking". In other words, keep it really low impact. No swimming, weight lifting, or archery bow pulling for six months while the occluder patch healed into the heart tissue. He also said no contact sports for the rest of my life...football, basketball games, etc, or martial arts sparring. I hope that I can eventually do some martial arts training again. Hopefully, I will be able to do some that is low impact. The doctor's concern is that a jarring of the body might dislodge the device. He said if that happens, I will be in serious trouble. So far after the repair, there have been no new, bad symptoms. I still get a little bit of the erratic heartbeats which feels kind of like a delayed beat, then one that is really hard. I had this symptom for the past year. I guess it started at about the same time that I started taking aspirin and quit drinking caffeine. It is just kind of annoying, but everyone tells me that my EKG and heartbeat rhythm is totally normal. I still have just a bit of a dull chest ache from time to time, usually at rest, in the center of my chest or in my left pectoral region near the rib cage. I kind of think this is might just be muscular soreness from feeling the irrithymic beats or dull ache, then rubbing the muscles to see if they are the problem. Another symptom is that I have always had migraine aura for as long as I can remember. It would only happen once in a while...maybe once a month or once every three months. It was classic migraine aura with vibrating rainbow shaped blurred vision that moved from one side of my left eye to the other, then it would sometimes end with a light headache. I also had them several times a day for two or three days after the stroke. Well anyway, that is my story. I'm hoping for a complete recovery and looking forward to the reconditioning progress as the doctor gives me the green light to increase my exercise. The cardiologist has ordered a follow up echo exam at one month and three months. Jim

lthree5
New Member


Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 4/23/2010 10:30 AM (GMT -6)   
jwillis - I have a pain in my left side, deep under my ribs once in a while too, but, doc says I shouldn't feel it.  I felt this with the first one too....yep, just had a second one done last Monday.  Had a large shunt still from one I had done over four years ago.  I also have this "chicken bone" feeling in the middle of my chest that some people talk about.  I'm hoping that was from the TEE and will go away in a few weeks.  I'm glad to hear you talk about that heartbeat too, with this one I'm getting a little slow beat and then a hard one.  Hoping it will resolve itself too.  Going Tuesday for a follow up echo.
 
I had recurring vertigo for a year before I had the stroke (4.5 yrs ago) and they didn't find the PFO/ASA until I actually had a stroke.
 
I'm nervous about any activity too....because of the ASA, I feel like it could "pull loose" or something.  But, dr. did not mention this.
 
Good luck to you!

LammingtonMan
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/24/2010 5:18 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi Everyone,

I am 39 yo male living in Brisbane Australia. I read this forum from start to finish after my stroke and found it to be a great source of comfort during a very confusing and distressing time in my life.

 

I am writing to help provide some feedback to people considering a PFO closure and I would like to thank everyone in this thread for their input. You have no idea what a relief it was to find some "real" people on-line who were going through the same thing as me.

 

History

 

As far back as I can remember I have had migraines.

Sometimes 3 per month lasting 2-3 days. I have aura with them - you know, speckled vision, vomiting etc. I had CAT scans etc at age 11 and then 15 and in my early twenties and various other tests. No one found anything wrong with me.

But I knew there was something wrong but believing I had seen plenty of doctors and had plenty of tests, the problem must be just "something I'll have to live with"

 

about 2 months ago I had a TIA/Stroke - lost ability to speak or write for 24 hours with a full recovery within 48 hours. It was a huge shock. I never go to the doctor. Never get a cold. While everyone around me can be struck down with various flu's etc - I seem to be able to fight them off. I am fit. No diabetes, no high blood pressure or cholesterol. I have never had a day of sick leave in 22 years. SO this stroke came as a shock to me and my family.

 

I have noticed the following symptoms over the past 5 years:

1. Tired eyes - I am getting tired sore red eyes every day. By 2pm my eyes are dry and irritable

2. lack of "life energy" - I seem to have been feeling like I was living in a fog. Nothing had the crispness of sharpness I remembered as a younger person

3. Mild depression - struggle to get through the day. Become more effected by others actions. Feel like the world was not somewhere I could thrive in

4. Basically a reduction in "LIFE FORCE" - I just thought I was getting OLD!

 

Then at 39 I had a Stroke/TIA

 

So I went to hospital in an ambulance. Had all of the tests.

 

What followed was the discovery of a large hole between left and right atrium sections - PFO. The hole is between 15 and 20mm.

I had the TOE test and that was the only test that showed the hole.

 

So firstly, if you are having migraines with aura and suffer from sore eyes and have noticed a general reduction in the enjoyment of life in the absence of all other stroke risk factors ask your doctor for a TOE test and they might just find you have a PFO. The TOE procedure is quick and painless apart from a sore throat for a few hours after the procedure.

 

I elected to have the hole plugged up with an Amplatzer Occluder device. The operation took 1 hour and 20 minutes. The procedure was successful with the bubble test showing only a few bubbles pass through however my surgeon told me this is normal and that over time the heart's own tissue would cover the device and the device would become part of my heart wall.

 

So, am I glad I had the procedure?

 

You bet I am!

 

The first thing I noticed was that my eyes were not sore anymore. I am guessing a clean feed of blood to my head was providing my eyes with well oxygenated blood. So for once in my life my eyes were getting what they needed to function normally. I awoke in my bed in hospital after the operation in a room with an extremely bright light. I was able to look directly at it without any discomfort. This was something new to me. I have always avoided bright light. So instantly I could detect a change and slowly I started to join the dots and look for other aspect of my health that had improved.

 

It is now 10 days since the procedure and I feel great. The only pain I have is in my groin but that is going away. I had severe bruising in the groin area. I was not told about the groin pain or bruising before the operation. But take it easy for a week after the operation and you should be fine.

 

Also I have not had a migraine or even the dull headache I just live with everyday. I have never taken medication for my headaches as I seem to be someone with a high pain threshold and I basically don't like taking medicines. No anti-biotic - no aspirin etc.

 

Now I take 300mg of aspirin every morning with food and I have been told to do this for the next 12 months.

 

My energy levels are back to how they were when I was 20 years old and I feel more positive about life. I feel better.

 

In a few weeks I will start exercising again when my body tells me it is ready. Listen to your body and only start full work and sport regimes when you know it is the right time.

 

I am slowly getting a rhythm back into my life and enjoying it.

 

The stroke/TIA has made me appreciate life more and now that I have more energy and better health with many of the symptoms I have lived with for years simply vanish - all I can say is get that "bloody hole plugged up as soon as possible". You won't regret it.

 

 


CatMom5
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 88
   Posted 4/27/2010 11:11 AM (GMT -6)   
I have had migraines my entire life. They started when I was a young child and at one point I was getting 3 - 4 migraines a week. I had my PFO/ASA closure done 2 years ago and I am quite happy to say that I have only had one migraine since and that was just after the closure procedure. I have gone 2 years migraine free!

Mark in Denver
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 5/31/2010 9:57 AM (GMT -6)   
To: No 1 Girly ...

You asked how I was doing after my February PFO closure - you were scheduled in April. First, I apologize for not following the thread of messages for awhile. I have felt so good that I have not thought about checking in often with this news group. The worse feeling I have experienced is some racing/fluttering of the heart. I suppose this is not normal but I have always thought it was part of the healing process (my personal opinion only). The surgeon has checked me out once and I'm due back after the six month period.

I am taking Plavix during the six month healing process. I bleed and bruise easily now. I will be glad when that medication can be discontinued. I have more energy than before. I have only had one sharp pain in (what felt like) my heart but it lasted only a second. I have had no discomfort as a result of the occuluder placed in the heart.

What device did your surgeon use? My surgeon chose the Amplatzer Cribriform Occluder - a very soft and pliable device. After August I will be off the Plavix and the regimen will then be an aspirin each day. I just got home from a weekend camping trip at a nearby reservoir. I carried tents, coolers, awnings, etc. without incident -- well, I'm getting older and "less pliable" but that has nothing to do with the PFO. smilewinkgrin

Mark in Denver

mercyme
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 310
   Posted 5/31/2010 8:35 PM (GMT -6)   
 
 
   Hi, just read your post about PFO. I have daily chronic migraines. I have never thought about having any kind of heart problem as I've had no chest pains. I've dealt with migraines for over 20 years. I see a neurologist, but he only wants to add another drug everytime I see him.  Trying to get in to a headache clinic out in Houston Tx. I live in Tennessee but am willing to travel if they can help me.  I don't have as much energy as time goes by because of these daily migraines. I'm 47 years old, active and take care of myself.  Have had MRI, CAT Scans, EEG....but never had my heart checked. I would think I'd have some symptoms if it were PFO, don't you think?   Hope you are all doing well.
 
  God Bless,
 
  Mercyme

MrsSgtSpikke
New Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 5/31/2010 10:35 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi all. My name is Shara. I found out 3 days ago that I have a PFO. I have my first dr appt tomorrow. I have done lots of research on this since my dr's ma wouldn't answer any questions because, in her words, "I can't answer that, the dr left for the weekend". Well, thanks for letting me freak out over a long holiday weekend! Good thing I can do searches online to find my answers. I'm pretty sure that I will be fine, I have Tricare (military) and they seem to care. The only problem is, my husband is currently deployed and he is going to have to come home to help me. I just want to know how long do I need help around the house? We need to tell is command how long he needs emergency leave. I guess I'll find out tomorrow, maybe. It's just interesting to read about people who have ALL the same symtoms I have. I found out I had this after having an MRI because of headaches when I laugh too hard. They found a spot and then the "head" guy wanted another one done to check for MS. That came back fine. But, then he wanted to do the bubble study to check for the PFO, incase I had a stoke and didn't know it because of my migraines act like strokes. It came back possitive for that. Now, I go in to see what the next step is. I want to have the closer done, not the meds. I'm already taken too my pills a day, I don't want anymore. Wish us luck on my husband getting enough time to help me heal. :-)

MrsSgtSpikke
New Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 5/31/2010 10:37 PM (GMT -6)   
I forgot to say that I had no heart symptoms, just the head.

BRUCO
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 7/21/2010 4:47 PM (GMT -6)   
I WILL BE HEVING MY P F O CLOSED ON JULY 30th .
WHAT IS THE RECOVERY TIME BEFORE I GET BACK TO A NORMAL LIFE ?

retread
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/5/2010 4:17 PM (GMT -6)   
I had a transcatheter occlusion done in early November 2009. The Cath Lab Surgeon had a little trouble pushing the device through the PFO and I ended up with some fluid buildup around my lungs, so I had some serious chest pain for the first 12 hours and a splitting headache for three days postop. After that it was pretty clear sailing, a little of the "Chicken Bone" type of pain you hear of in this forum, but only if I were to lay down on my side with my arm compressing my chest. I also experienced a small amount of flutter but that went away within 3 months. After a brief no exercise or weight lifting period, I was downhill skiing at Christmas that year. I took Plavix and baby asprin for 3 months and now take only the baby asprin. The occluder was completly integrated into the heart by six months and apart from some follow up echos and EKGs (so normal that the techs wonder why I'm there), I have had no reason to see a doctor. My visual aura, occasional vertigo have gone completely. I used to get 10 migraines/month, some lasting for days; I've had five in the last two years. I get the occasional stress or tension headache but nothing like the brain busters I used to experience on a regular basis. No TIAs since the surgery either. More energy, stronger immune system better perception of life. For me this was the best thing to happen since I met my wife.

Noah Body
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 8/6/2010 9:20 AM (GMT -6)   
Had my PFO closed a week ago 7/30/10. I'm curious why no strenuous exercise is permitted? I've been laying low since the closure. I do walk, not run. Not to strenuous. Did walk off and on at the Ohio State Fair 4 days after closure in a period of 5 hours. If I did more strenuous exercise what does it affect? Will my device get dislodged? Will my sutures open up? So far I have not experienced any pain at all. Thanks

Noah Body
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 8/6/2010 10:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Found out from my doctor's nurse that the strenuous exercise restriction is for the sutures not to open up. The implanted device in the heart is not affected. It's all about the sutures in the groin.
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