Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just a Little Hole

I've expected for a long time that I have a hole in my heart. I thought this because my sister, Andrea, did too. Years ago she had a mini stroke and through investigating that, they found that she had a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). She had hers repaired shortly after. It pretty much resolved her migraine headaches. Apparently, they are common in a lot of people who have migraines with aura. The chances of it are also more common in family members and people born by cesarean. So 3 out of 3 of those apply to me.

A few weeks ago I was tested to see if I had a PFO. The first test was called a Trans-Cranial Doppler. (TCD) is a new test which measures brain artery blood flow by using safe ultrasound echo probes placed on the surface of both sides of the head. If microscopic bubbles injected through an IV shunt past the lungs to the left heart, TCD detects and counts each bubble as it appears in the brain arteries. This showed that a PFO was present.

Then they did TransThoracic Echocardiography ( or TTE). It is a noninvasive, ultrasound test which evaluates heart structures. Microscopic bubbles injected into a vein show a PFO when they cross to the left side. This determined the severity of the PFO.

After all this was confirmed the recommended an MRI on my brain which I did a few days later. They need to see if I have any neurological damage caused by the PFO. You see, it doesn't affect my heart as much as my brain. What happens is when the PFO comes open, unoxygenated blood and possibly small clots flow from one side of my heart into the oxygenated blood on the other side, which then flows to your brain, possibly causing a stroke.

The scariest risk is stroke. A large PFO can increase your stroke risk up to 20%. After evaluating your risk, a panel decides if you qualify for closure.

The closure procedure has its risks, but amazingly, can be done through a catheter put in a vein in your leg that is guided to your heart. They put a little double umbrella device in the heart which is then closed over in time by scar tissue.

So, in this case I found that ignorance is bliss. It has been in the back of my mind for years. But now that I know it is, and I need to do something about it, it is stressing me out. Now it is in the forefront of my mind all the time. ANXIETY! Even though I'm in no more risk than I ever was, the thought of medical procedures is freaking me out. I really dislike Dr.'s offices and everything involved with them. I don't like the idea of sedation. I've never even taken a Valium. Being restrained freaks me out. I guess I'm just a control freak. They idea that I may be a ticking time bomb for a stroke is uncomfortable as well.

The silver lining is, if I get it closed, it will more than likely fix my migraines. They have been plaguing my for years. They totally disable me during the aura period when I loose a good deal of my sight for about 45 minutes. I never know when the are coming on. THAT I will be glad to be rid of.

This week I will get the results of the MRI and get a better idea on what to expect next. I'm not sure what I want.

Anyway, enough babbling. If you want to learn more, here is a link to the medical office I am going to....


Celeste said...

Oh, WOW.

I'm glad you know. If you can get rid of those migraines, that'd be amazing.

Love you.

Teresa Hobbs said...

I'm so glad you got a confirmation. I know it's scary to have a procedure and I totally understand your anxiety. At least you have a happy benefit on the other end.

Andrea said...

Let us know what they decide to do. It'll be so nice when it's all over, right?

Mom to Many said...

I am so glad it is something fixable. The Aura thing is freaky to me. I have it too. Suddenly I realize I am losing my sight.
You will be in my thoughts and prayers. :o)


The Koskie Family said...

Wow this is interesting stuff.. I'm curious, have you tried supplementing with magnesium?? I was doing a bit of research on it and found that it helps with SO many things, and mainly heart issues. I read that it helps a lot of people with migraines too, and after reading this post, i wonder if its because of the "hole in the heart" being helped by the magnesium, and then helping with migraines. My aunt got really bad migraines until she tried magnesium and said that helped a lot. But if you get some, make sure its a powder or liquid form. The pills (at least the ones i've tried) don't seem to absorb as good. Nutrina Super Mag is a good one from Good Earth. I just warm up some apple juice and add the powder and drink it or u can add it to tea. Anyway here's a couple websites that have good info: