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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: New symptoms realated to hole in heart?

 young lady - Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:52 am

I'm sorry if this ends up being a duplicate post but the one I did last week seems to have disappeared,

I am a 23 year old female with a a clean bill of health apart from one problem I have suffered with for as long as I can remember. When I was born I had a tiny hole in my heart not big enough to warrent any sort of investigation and doctors told my parents that it would heal up over time. It did leave me with a heart murmur but again my parents were told that it was completley harmless and I wouldn't even notice it. However I do notice it and have noticed it for most of my life, I have noticed it for years in 2 main ways the first is palpatations just feeling like my heart rate increases as if i'm doing exersise but i'm not and the second is slightly more uncomfortable in that I get strange chest cramps that only last a couple of minutes but can be quite painful. They start off as a quick stabbing pain in my chest and then I feel as if my chest muscles on the left side lock up and force me to hold my breath. I have learnt over the years that the best way to get rid of them is however to breath through them. Ususally if I take a deep breath in I can feel things click back into palce and then it's back to normal but taking the deep breath in causes some discomfort not pain but just a weird feeling.

both of these sympotoms I've lived with my whole life and never sought medical attention for because i've just got used to them however I have developed a couple of new symptoms one of which is really annoying me. For the past couple of weeks I have been having difficulty filling my lungs it does appear to be getting better now but I don't want it to come back so would still like your opinion. I don't have to be doing anything to feel short of breath and I find myself having to yawn constatly to try to get a satisfying breath. I have never had any lung problems or stress/nervous problems so i'm putting it down to my heart. It also gets worse when I lie on my left side and my heart rate does increase. The other thing I wanted to ask about was I have started getting a different sort of what assume is a palpatation, I feel as if my heart just skips a beat it must only last a split second but it feels like ages and my whole body feels liek its floating or sinking if that makes sense. It also makes me feel quite dizzy and I have fainted a couple of times, this is not unusual for me I've always been a fainter, but these 2 new sympotoms together are quite worrying and the breathing thing is making me really tired. If you have any ideas as to whats causing these symptoms please let me know.

Thank You
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:40 pm

User avatar Hi there --

First, what you're describing I assume to be patent forament ovale (PFO), a small hole in the septum between the upper chambers of the heart (atria). Usually this causes no symptoms and often goes undetected for years. Being younger you were born at a time when these things are routinely discovered early often before birth, but are rarely treated unless they become problematic. One of the symptoms a small PFO can cause is episodes of shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Some of the other symptoms you mention may or may not be related to the PFO. For instance palpitations, even those that leave you feelinig as though you're floating or lightheaded, are common even in totally normal people and of themselves are of no significance. However, you do describe some other symptoms which , especially in light of the PFO, should be looked at by a cardiologist so that you might have some better idea of what causes them and to have a baseline cardiological profile, which is useful for anyone, but especially someone with a defect (no matter how minor) especially when associated with symptoms. Some of these symptoms may not be related to the PFO directly, but often more than one disorder or defect can exist in the same person, and sometimes there is a statistical relationship if not an obvious physical one.

So: the fainting is never an okay thing, and should be followed up by a cardiologist. It is most likely neurocardiogenic syncope, which for some unknown reason can occur independently or in a person who also has a PFO. There's no obvious connection, but this happens, and fainting in itself is not a desirable thing to have happen. This problem should be evaluated by tilt table test, which will demonstrate the body's inability to maintain appropriate blood pressure at certain times, and if this comes up positive it can be treated medically or at least the patient can be coached tolearn how to anticipate and adapt to it better to avoid frank fainting. It is usually related to a failure of the baroreceoptors in he neck and the arch of the aorta, and is sometimes called dysautonomia.

The breating problems could be due to the PFO, and this definitely deserves attention too. The palpitations are not espeically worrisome, but in someone who is already prone to fainting they can become a problem because of that.

All in all you're probably a very healthy young woman, but with some relatively minor but potentially troublesome heart-related structural problems that definitely should at least be documented and possibly treated or at least managed medically.

I hope this is helpful to you. Please follow up with us here as needed. Good luck to you and please keep us updated.

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