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....