Diagnosed with PFO, but virtually no symptoms

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2014
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/18/2014 12:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi, my name is Rich. I was recently diagnosed with a PFO after having a small stroke (called a BRAO - Branch Retinal Arterial Occlusion) in my left eye. I am 47 years old, very active, and do not exhibt any of the symptoms of a PFO at all other than the results from the Bubble Study, which clearly showed the solution moving between my left and right atrium when I coughed. I run (22 min 5k) and resistance train daily, have normal BP, heart rythm, and all my lab numbers look great. My cardiologist told me that there was no reason to change my lifestyle, because I am very healthy and exhibit no symptoms. He just told me to follow-up with him after 3 months. My concern, like many others with this condition, is that I feel like I am walking around with a loaded gun in my heart and that the next cough or sneeze could be my last. My other concern is if my running and resistance training are putting me at greater risk.
Any advice or direction for self-help resoures or knowledge will be greatly appreciated! 

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 394
   Posted 8/18/2014 6:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Rich,

The Bubble Study, was that during an Echo Cardiogram? My most recent Echo Stress they injected a substance that highlighted blood flow, they said they could use saline as well, just shake it up before use to introduce bubbles. I saw it race through my heart on the monitor.

I lost vision twice in one eye, minutes long each time, attributed to vascular constriction, they referred to it as amaurosis fugax.


Did your vision return? The PFO seems to be a factor in clots, did they place you on blood thinners?

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2014
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/20/2014 3:21 PM (GMT -6)   
Yes,it was during the echo. When I coughed the saline bubbles passed between my left and right atrium. I haven't lost my vision completely, but instead have a dead spot in my center vision because of the retinal occlusion. They told me that normally people with two good eyes will barely notice this, but since I have amblyopia in my other eye, it's right there all the time for me and I was told that it would never improve, so the loss is permanent. I think of it as my pet alligator in my eye now because the dead spot a shaped like a little fat alligator.

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/31/2014 7:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Rich, not sure if this will help or not. I am 42, pretty active ( run 3 times a week and lift weights), and I had a stroke last October. Through a bubble study/tee, they discovered my pfo. My cardiologist(s) and neurologist all recommended closure due to my age and activity level. Had it done news years eve and have really had no issues since. Other than the wound area they went through, the recovery was pretty quick. I ran a 5k race 5 weeks after. The only challenge I've found (and this could be my age), is that my active heart rate is much higher. But I'm working on reducing that now. To be fair, I wasn't really monitoring prior to the stroke, so I have nothing to compare it to. Hope that helps.
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