Possible PFO Diagnosis

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mountain climber
New Member

Date Joined Aug 2011
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/24/2011 6:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Like many other posts I've read here, I was recently diagnosed with a PFO...they think.  During my Echo with bubble study, bubbles appeared on the "wrong" side before I even valvesalva'd.  Of course, 2 days after this appointment, I flew from the US to Korea and have been here for the past 3 weeks.  I have my first cardiologist app't the day after I land back in the US. 
My initial symptoms were shortness of breath, particularly when exercising or climbing stairs.  I used to run 1.5 miles in < 12 minutes...4 years later, I'm lucky to go that far in 15 minutes.  In the respiratory Dr office, my pulse ox dropped from 95 at rest to 90 after walking down and back up 2 flights of stairs.  I also was tired so often...nothing felt better than just lying down and going to sleep.  I was worried that I was just lazy, but now wonder if my fatigue was related to PFO rather than lack of motivation. 
I've never had migraines, but I do get sharp pains in my chest a couple times a month--they last 10-20 seconds, then they are gone.  Also, my fingertips will frequently swell, itch, feel hot, and go numb (but that's probably related to the unexplained hives I get everday).
In reading about other peoples stories, it sounds like I should just quit whining and move to a lower altitude (no migraines, no strokes, nothing serious) but that doesn't seem like a very good solution.  I love climbing mountains and finished my 14th climb to 14,000+ ft within the past month.  So how can I manage to hike 15+ miles with 5,000 ft elevation gain without a problem, yet I can't run 1.5 miles?
Not really expecting an answer, just nice to put this out into the ether for consideration.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 8/25/2011 8:29 AM (GMT -6)   
Good Morning and welcome to HealingWell.  I am glad you felt comfortable posting here and wish I had some great words of wisdom for you.  I just wanted to say hello and let you know I understand your concerns and frustrations.
I hope you do well at your Cardiologist appointment and some of your concerns are address to your satisfaction.
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

mountain climber
New Member

Date Joined Aug 2011
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 10/7/2011 9:50 PM (GMT -6)   
I had my PFO closure yesterday.  Everything went great except the IV at the beginning.  That was the worst IV experience I ever had.  The procedure itself went great.  I was told I was a chatty cathy during the procedure, but I dont' remember any of it thanks to the happy drugs. 
As soon as I was aware of things again, I realized that I was no longer aware of my heart beating.  For the first time in ages, I couldn't feel my heart beating.  What a wonderful feeling. 
Now the day after the procedure, I feel great and have to keep telling myself to not do anything I shouldn't.
I'd definitely recommend a PFO closure to anyone wondering if they should get one or not.

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 10/18/2011 9:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Glad to hear your closure went well Mountain Climber, follow the docs instructions and take it easy for the first several weeks. You'll be back to full speed before you know it. Congrats on the successful procedure!

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/21/2011 11:45 PM (GMT -6)   
I was also diagnosed with a PFO with ASA in May following a small stroke.
The last 5 months have been a rollercoaster of confusing information without solid direction on what course to take for treatment.

After my stroke, I was recruited for the RESPECT trial which uses the Amplatzer occluder. I decided against this trial and the device after reading many medical journal articles about device erosion and the potential long term effects on my aortic valve.

I am considering closure with the Gore Helex device as it is reportedly more conforming to the atrial anatomy. It does however, have a higher reported residual shunt rate than the Amplatzer which is not comforting. At this point, I am considering off-label closure with the Helex, or maybe full surgical closure on bypass. I am looking for opinions from anyone who has either had the Helex device placed, or, open heart surgery for repair.
Also, has anyone had trouble with their insurance company covering the procedure with a device since these devices are not FDA approved for pfo closure?
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