I have an observation. I hope some of you will chime in to let me know what you think.
I have been reading all the posts related to PFOs on this site mostly, but also on a couple of other places. In addition, since my sedentary lifestyle due to my condition and now during my relaxing days of recovery, I have been doing a lot and LOTS of research to try and understand my condition - for me the more I know the better I feel. I think it is safe to say that at this juncture of PFO research and knowledge, doctors DO NOT KNOW why we suddenly get symptoms (some of us more suddenly than others) after having lived with this hole in our hearts all of our lives.
I have also noticed that a lot of us who post are very fit and very active people (divers, runners, bikers, soccer players, etc.). Or at least we were until we started developing our nasty symptoms!!! I don't know if this is a trend of just people who post or a trend for people who have PFO symptoms in general. I have started to wonder if there is some type of correlation between being super active physically and developing the symptoms? Maybe we can throw age into the equation as well. Perhaps when we were younger and very active, our bodies would compensate somehow, but as we get older, it is harder for our bodies to compensate for the hole in our hearts??? I have read and heard from my doctors that many people start developing symptoms in their late 30's or early 40's. Some of you may have started having symptoms around this time, but were not diagnosed until much later because you thought your symptoms were just part of the aging process. I know that if my symptoms had not developed so suddenly and my health had not started deteriorating so rapidly, I would have probably just chalked everything up to the aging process and left it at that. I just wonder if there is something to this idea I am having.
I don't know how active some other members have been, but I know that some of you have 4 or 5 children, like Mamanuss for example. I have read that the whole process of pushing, lifting, etc. causes more of the "saline bubbles" to move from one side of the heart to the other (I know we've all heard of the famous Valsava Maneuver). Hence lifting weights, children, and generally being more active would make more blood go from one side of the heart to the other and can thus exacerbate the condition and/or the symptoms. Hmmmm.....
My partner and I were discussing this the other day and he compared our hearts to engines. He said that it's as if you have an engine and after a while if you push it too hard it will start to fail. I said that it wasn't so much the pushing too hard, but more that the engine is defective to begin with. So we have an engine that is defective, and then some drivers push the car engine to its limits because that's what we like to do (we like to race!) or what we have to do (we have 5 kids!), over a period of 30 or 40 years. Isn't this engine more likely to falter sooner than an engine that is pushed too hard but is not defective, or one that is defective but is not taken for long hard drives and sits in the driveway most of the time?
I hope you will help me think this through. Who knows, we may be on to something and we may be helping others who will come after us. With more answers, hopefully their journeys will be a little easier than some of ours have been!
I am sending lots of positive and bright thoughts in everybody's way.