Stroke & PFO Closure

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closed34
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 4/16/2009 4:42 PM (GMT -7)   
One year ago, at age 34, I suffered a mild stroke.  While otherwise healthy, I had migraines with aura since I was a teenager and I had a few episodes (beginning after my first pregnancy) that were probably TIAs in retrospect.  A small PFO was found via TEE/bubble study, while all other tests came back normal.  I sought a second opinion and a transcranial doppler revealed that the degree of shunting was large (5 on a scale of 1-5).  I had the PFO closed via catheter with a 28mm cardioseal device in July. (The PFO turned out to be 13mm- sizable).  The procedure itself was not a big deal with the exception of one episode of bleeding from the puncture site and an achy groin for a couple weeks.  Six months out, another TEE/bubble study revealed that the hole was closed.  The good news is that I haven't had a migraine since two weeks post procedure and I haven't had another TIA/stroke.  The bad news is that I now have irregular heartbeats from time to time (especially when laying down) that I never experienced before the procedure.  I was told that this was normal and to be expected as the heart adapts to the device.  Because atrial fibrillation can lead to stroke-causing clots, this is worrisome even though these episodes are brief and infrequent. 
 
One year ago, I was looking for other people's experiences so that I could make an educated decision.  I promised myself that I would tell my story once I had some perspective.  It is only one story, but maybe it will help someone that was once in my shoes.  Take care.   

CatMom5
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 88
   Posted 4/17/2009 7:25 AM (GMT -7)   
Closed, Congratulations on your PFO being closed!! We have very similar stories. One year ago I had a mini stroke. I too had no other symptoms other than having migraines since I was about 9 years old. They found a large PFO and an ASA and did the closure procedure using the Gore-Helex device. I did have some issues with the procedure due to my veins being small. I also developed PACs after the procedure and I had to be on medication for these for quite a while. They have since slowed down and while not totally gone I am off that medication. The good news is that I have not had a single migraine since the procedure. The bad news is that I had my 1 year bubble study done on Wednesday and my PFO is still not closed. It is better than at 6 months but there still are bubbles going through. I don't know what my next steps are yet. I'm happy though that yours is closed. Are you off the Plavix now?

closed34
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 4/17/2009 2:56 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm sorry to hear that your hole has not completely closed yet- that must be frustrating and disappointing. But the fact that less is going across probably improves your odds of not having another stroke significantly. (When at first they thought my hole was small, they advised me not to do the procedure since the likelyhood of a clot traveling across it was slim.) When I asked my cardiologist what would happen if my hole wasn't closed completely, he said that he could go back in and add another device if necessary. If the procedure itself (not to mention the PACs) was a problem for you, I can definately understand your concern about doing it again.

Prior to the procedure, I had a CT angiogram done to rule out arteriovenous malformations. Apparently, bubbles can cross them as well. Are they sure that the ASA and PFO are the only culprits? Could there be another small hole near the heart or in a different area in the heart?


I took Plavix and baby aspirin for 6 months and will be taking baby aspirin for the rest of my life. Prior to the procedure, I was taking Coumadin, which was what I would have remained on if I didn't have the procedure done. If Coumadin/Warfarin works for you, that is an option.

What meds did you take for the PACs and did you have any bad side effects? I haven't had anything scary happen lately, but I had several episodes during a week when I was fighting off a respiratory infection a couple months ago.

CatMom5
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 88
   Posted 4/18/2009 7:47 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Closed! I worry because some of the research I've read indicates a 4x greater chance of stroke if the PFO hasn't closed after a year. I did have a CT angiogram and every other test known to man so I'm pretty sure it's just the PFO and ASA. The PFO was described as "large" though.

CatMom5
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 88
   Posted 4/18/2009 8:10 AM (GMT -7)   
Closed, I was originally put on inderal by the hospital but it did nothing for my PACs so my cardiologist switched me to Toprol XL. I was taking 50mgs a day before the PACs finally calmed down but it took a good couple of months. I'm off the toprol now and really only get a few PACs when very tired or stressed but nothing like before where it was non-stop.

I was on Coumadin prior to the closure and am now on Plavix and 325mg aspirin. If my PFO ever closes then I will just be on a baby aspirin.

closed34
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 4/18/2009 10:41 AM (GMT -7)   
I'm hoping that it eventually closes completely for you. In the meantime, if the Plavix/aspirin combo appears to be working, that is probably easier than Coumadin. (Even on 10mg, they could never get my INR high enough-not to mention the constant blood tests, diet modifications, and bruising involved.)

Following the stroke, I just wanted to get everything fixed so I could move on with my busy life. It just isn't that easy I guess. Even if you're lucky enough to have a complete physical recovery (I'm left with two partially numb fingers), emotional/psychological healing may take longer. Even verification of closure from both a TEE and transcranial doppler hasn't given me 100% peace of mind. But I do feel better knowing that I have taken the steps necessary to improve my odds. You have done the same.

marryjames
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/27/2009 2:00 PM (GMT -7)   
My friend used a proffesinal Vip air ambulance transportation that provide him a medical treatment all the way to the hospitel in a case you need a hospitel with no abillity to spend your time and your health
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