Friday, August 31, 2007

Heart Work

I havent talked about the cardiologist appointment that we had this week. We had that on Tuesday. He took a look at Joseph's heart which was very very cool. What we found is he may have had a whole in his heart. I nearly went down on the floor when he said that... I was weak and wobbly when I went in there to begin with.
They believe a clot moved thru his heart and up to his brain. The hole is gone now, it sort of repaired itself.

I haven't had much time to sit and chew on this this week and I guess there isn't much to sit and chew on. It's done, it's over and the important thing is the hole is gone now so we move on.
Jenn looked it up for me and I think it sums the whole the thing up the best.

It turns out that as many as one in four adults have a patent foramen ovale -- an oval-shaped opening between the heart's upper chambers.

Specialists believe that the gap can heighten the risk that patients -- especially younger adults -- will suffer a stroke or endure migraine headaches. After Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi had a stroke in February and a teammate said he had a hole in his heart, speculation swirled that he had a patent foramen ovale.

Most of the time, though, people live out their entire lives without knowing they have the opening: The thumping of their heart is never interrupted, their breath never cut short. The defect has been recognized since the Middle Ages, but its potential role in strokes has only been observed recently, so there hasn't been a lot of research into it.

Doctors know that the heart opening is vital to fetuses, whose blood needs to bypass their still-developing lungs. After birth, that channel -- which is like two curtains that part to permit blood to sluice through -- is supposed to close.

''Usually, after the first year of life, about 75 to 80 percent of babies will no longer have patent foramen ovale," said Dr. Joseph P. Carrozza, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. ''But it means 20 to 25 percent of babies, and ultimately adults, are walking around with this potential space between two tissues in the heart.
"Why three-quarters of the time nature does the right thing and why one-quarter of the time it doesn't isn't clear to anybody."

There's no indication that the condition runs in families or that it's more common among certain racial, ethnic, or gender groups.

Until the past decade or so, doctors thought the opening was innocuous, a quirk of nature with no medical implications. But then, in their quest to understand how otherwise healthy people were stricken with strokes, doctors discovered that about half of patients whose strokes can't be blamed on clogged arteries, high blood pressure or diabetes turn out to have an opening between the upper right and upper left chambers of the heart.

Here's why that can be dangerous: ''We all form blood clots in our legs, for example," said Dr. Carey Kimmelstiel, a Tufts-New England Medical Center heart specialist. ''They usually go to the lungs and they get absorbed or dissolved."

But in people with heart openings, the clot can go directly from the right side of the heart to the left, slipping through the gap when the person sneezes, coughs, picks up a box, or lifts weights at the gym.

And when that happens, sometimes, the clot can make the journey from the heart, up the big blood vessels of the neck, and into the brain, where the vessels go from being like wide interstate highways to narrow country roads. Eventually, the clot gets stuck. The result: a stroke

So there you go. If the blood work comes back that he has no clotting disorder or any other blood disorder than we will come away from all of this pointing to that tiny hole in that tiny heart. Then we move on.

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