I thought I would post my story here because I spent hours trawling the internet before my procedure looking for other peoples experiences. Unfortunately most of them were negative (those are always the people who post) and it freaked me out!
Background - I am 27 and my ASD was found totally by chance. I went to a&e for an unrelated problem, and had an abnormal ecg. From there I had all sorts of scans and xrays until a heart ultrasound revealed the hole. It wasn't clear what it was at first, but there was significant shunting, so I was booked for an MRI. After the MRI it was diagnosed as a PFO. I was told the shunt was moderate, and that the right ventricle was beginning to show signs of enlargement. I was offered a choice of repeat MRI scans every 3 months to monitor my progress, or transcatheter closure. After lots of research I chose the latter.
Everything I read was terrifying - chest pains, feeling of something stuck in the chest, palpitations, headaches, bruising. I didnt want to get it done, but decided it was the best decision. And to top it off I have a nickel allergy and apparently some people react badly to the metal in the devices. I ended up having the gore helix device which has less nitinol in it.
I had my procedure done 5 weeks ago. Once they got up to the heart they saw on the TEE that it was actually an ASD over 1cm in size. My cardiologist said that it was definitely the right decision to close it.
The procedure took around an hour. When I work up, I had pain in my groin as the surgeon decided to leave in the catheter for a few hours as this reportedly helped reduce brusing long term. It was really painful for a few hours and a relief when it was removed. I stayed the night in hospital, then went home and had a week off work.
I have had hardly any complications at all. I had no bruising at the site, and no chest pain or palpitations. I have had the occasional shooting pain in the heart lasting 2 seconds, and I understand that is normal whilst the device settles. I also bruise easily from the plavix but this is not a long term thing.
All in all it was a good experience and I wish I hadnt worried so much. I also am much fitter than before and can exercise longer and harder - I didnt even realise I had symptoms before all this, but clearly I was beginning to develop them.
I hope this helps someone who is trying to come to a decision, and feel free to ask any questions!