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PFOs?


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9 replies to this topic

#1 Sundancediver

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 11:21 PM

I was just diagnosed with a PFO. I am a relatively new diver with 2 SD trips 56 dives. I do not want to have closure surgery. I was reading about someone in a forum who was diagnosed and had closure surgery. I am trying to find info about PFOs and diving. Can I still dive? I do not plan to do advanced diving. Although Palau was pretty exciting. 25% of people have this and don't even know it. My cardiologist did not recommend surgery at all nor did he think any dr around would do the surgery because it is dangerous and the hole did not warrant it. Just looking for any info if anyone knows more of where I can look. Thanks, Sundancediver

#2 Jerrymxz

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 07:40 AM

Hi Sundancediver, the first thing I would do is contact DAN. they have the most up to date information on dive medicine. They might even be able to put you in touch with a doctor that is knowledgeable in dealing with a PFO and diving. From what I've read if you do decide to dive make your dives very conservative. Please keep us up to date on what you learn and what you decide to do. Positive thoughts and prayers to you.

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#3 dive_sail_etc

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 10:03 AM

Hello Cindy aka Sundancediver,

I am sorry for your PFO (and yes, I had to research a bit to understand what this is and how it affects your ability to enjoy regular diving). One surprising factoid I discovered is that Patent Foramen Ovale, a small hole between the left and right sides of the heart from birth, is relatively common. One article references and study estimating up to 30% of adults have a PFO yet live normal lives unaware they even have the condition.

This article I found speaks positively regarding successful closure surgery, which I would presume is possible with less intrusive arthroscopic procedures. Ironically, the DAN website is actually canvassing for volunteers to help in a risk/benefots study of PFO with or without the closure surgery. Here is a link to the DAN article.

Whatever you choose to do we are all here for you as fellow divers wishing the best possible outcome. As Jerry said, our prayers go out to you and your family.

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#4 WreckWench

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 11:31 AM

OMGOSH!!! TONS of prayers coming your way! I know we have some members with PFO's I hope that one of them will see this.

Brad is right.. DAN will have lots of info as well and we invite you to share with us thru this journey as I'm sure many of us will be shocked with the same 'diagnosis'. And we of course are worried about you so want to know what you find out. :tears:

Again we'll keep you in our prayers... please keep us updated! kamala

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#5 ev780

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 09:53 AM

No big deal from what I read unless you are symptomatic. As has been stated many people walk around with PFO and have no idea. Unless you get a bubble study you would never know. IIRC I even read one study that said that the incidence of DCS in the PFO group and the normal population is exactly the same. Meaning no causation. If your cardiologist is not well versed in diving medicine get a second opinion. DAN can also help. They are not the end all, be all, they do have the most research available.

Good luck.
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#6 lv2dive70

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 01:05 PM

Well I would have PM'ed this but I can't bc I'm not a full member anymore... I hope it is OK to post to this to this thread...

First some history - because I have migraines, I was concerned about whether I should be tested for PFO before I got into technical and cave diving. I did some research and Doug Ebserole's name kept coming up - he is a cardiologist who is actually doing studies on PFO's with DAN and also regularly performs PFO corrective surgeries. I ended up having a couple of PM conversations with him and he was happy to talk with me and very helpful with my questions. The answers I got surprised me...

I've linked below to a thread on another board discussing this very issue (would not normally link to another board but in this case I think it is very important) where the doctor makes a general statement that, "There is no reason to give up diving (or never start) because you have a PFO."

http://www.scubaboar...dition-pfo.html

I apologize if this is a breach in protocol but I did think this was an important issue and couldn't PM it.
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#7 dive_sail_etc

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 02:18 PM

Well I would have PM'ed this but I can't bc I'm not a full member anymore... I hope it is OK to post to this to this thread...
*Snippers*
I apologize if this is a breach in protocol but I did think this was an important issue and couldn't PM it.

Kate, thank you for such an insightful and empathetic post. :) I feel sure not only Cindy but many others following this topic will find your contribution and references on this equally useful and, dare I say, compelling.

P.S. Relax, Angel. :angel2: We are not at war with SB or any other board, certainly not on a topic as important and as we now know as far reaching into the dive community as this. Don't be such a stranger, we all :wub: you here!
Brad, the Fledgling Journeyman Master Hedonist
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#8 ScubaTurtle

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 02:46 PM

Sundancediver,


As many have already mentioned DAN will be one of the best resources for this issue. It's interesting that you post this now because I remember reading an article I believe in alert diver that was reviewing PFOs. I would hate to summarize the article incorrectly and I don't think they had a definite determination in the end but overall I don't believe that it was negative towards PFOs. As someone else mentioned I think they are continuing to perform research into the topic.


I'm currently trying to catch up on the Winter issue of Alert Diver so it must have been in the previous ones this past year. Good luck with your search for information and I hope you discover that you are able to continue to dive with either decision you make (to have surgery or not).

#9 Sundancediver

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 09:49 PM

Thank you for the great responses! I am doing great. I was diagnosed as a result from having air injected into a vein for varicose vein procedures and had bad reactions. That is a bad idea if you have a PFO. I did read the DAN articles and info. I was just curious if there were other up to date experiences out there. If I dive again soon, I will volunteer to be a DAN test subject. One thing I have not seen is if Nitrox would be good to use to minimize nitrogen bubbles. I can't quite get my brain around whether it would matter or not. If its nitrogen, oxygen or air, I don't think it matters if the bubbles go to your brain. But maybe it would help with DCS? I will ask DAN. I will continue diving but plan to dive conservatively and only in places that have access to a chamber. So, Tanzania may be out which we just looked at! Thanks again for the posts!

#10 ScubaTurtle

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 07:40 AM

Thank you for the great responses! I am doing great. I was diagnosed as a result from having air injected into a vein for varicose vein procedures and had bad reactions. That is a bad idea if you have a PFO. I did read the DAN articles and info. I was just curious if there were other up to date experiences out there. If I dive again soon, I will volunteer to be a DAN test subject. One thing I have not seen is if Nitrox would be good to use to minimize nitrogen bubbles. I can't quite get my brain around whether it would matter or not. If its nitrogen, oxygen or air, I don't think it matters if the bubbles go to your brain. But maybe it would help with DCS? I will ask DAN. I will continue diving but plan to dive conservatively and only in places that have access to a chamber. So, Tanzania may be out which we just looked at! Thanks again for the posts!

Sundancediver,

Just want to preface this post with I'm not a doctor nor am I pretending to be one.

Based on my knowledge of compression theory and Nitrox you may in fact be slightly better off with Nitrox to help prevent DCS while also having the PFO but gas bubbles in the blood would bad (as you know) regardless of the type of gas bubble. The idea behind Nitrox is that the O2 replaces the nitrogen that would typically dissolve into tissues during a dive. The help from Nitrox in terms of decreased surface intervals and increased bottom times comes from the fact that our bodies can actually use any O2 that gets dissolved in tissues when under pressure (diving). All gas dissolves and purges from tissues at different rates so this is why deep divers and tech divers also start to add helium to the mix of gases when they are going longer and deeper for dives (I know there are other reasons for using helium but just wanted to mention it). If there is O2 dissolved in a diver's tissues when the O2 starts to come out of the tissues during decompression the body can actually use some of the O2 that comes out and reducing the amount that has to be exhaled. The rest would just be passed to the lungs and exhaled.

All that said, it would seem to me if you follow conservative dive profiles to prevent bubbles from forming in the blood stream I think using Nitrox would help decrease the chances that bubbles would have the chance to form due to the increased possible usage of them in the body.

If anyone thinks my theories are off please let me know.

Definitely keep us all in the loop on this. I'm curious about the situation and hopefully you will be able to dive again safely with or without the surgery.

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