AF Association

Hole in the heart

I was diagnosed with a fib while on holiday in Hawaii last October after feeling generally unwell and breathless, taken straight to hospital where I promptly had a stroke . I woke up 2 days later in the ICU and was told they'd removed a blood clot from my brain and drained 6 kilos of fluid off my lungs. My sons flew over to see me as the doctors thought I might not survive. I was in hospital for 8 days and my weight went from 8 1/2 st to just over 7 in 24 hours. I had to wait for my insurance company to send out a doctor and nurse to bring me home. We travelled via Vancouver where I got food poisoning in the lounge. When I got back to our home I was so sick vomiting blood and passing blood, I tore my throat and duodenum , a Malory tear. I was rushed to hospital and woke up 2 days later to be told I had lost 2/3 of body's blood. I was in the ICU for a week, again it was touch and go. I was scanned for everything and they were looking for a reason as to why I had a stroke in the first place. Eventually 3 weeks later they found a minute hole in my heart, too small to operate and I'd had it from birth. This they believed brought on the a fib. Was I an accident waiting to happen ? I'm on warfarin and 5 other drugs. I had a haemeroidectomy the previous July and the 10 day recovery was horrific , could this also have brought on the a fib ? I'm awaiting a cardio version in June , so let's see, as I've still got this hole !


7 Replies

Lisa, my quite a story. I certainly hope they get some of this sorted out for you soon. Trying to guess what brought it on would be a waste of time, just get it under control. There are so many theories, one being it is genetic. All that said, what causes that gene to turn "on" is complicated issue. Just get the best help you can, and be gently demanding of your doctors that they provide you with whatever answers or help you need. Stay in touch, this community is extremely supportive.


Hi Lisa indeed that is quite a story and you have certainly been through the mill, as they say.

I developed AF and was diagnosed in a much less dramatic fashion for which I have just had 2 catheter ablations. On the 1 st my EP discovered a hole in the heart in the septum that divides the 2 atrias which is called a PFO a patent foramen Ovale. Everyone is born with one, just that for 75% of the population they close within the first 3 months. This is the most common form of hole in the heart, although there are more unusual types which do cause some concern and are treatable. About 25% of the population have a PFO unknowingly. The cardiologists do not repair them unless they are more than 5mm and they allow blood to pass through the atrias as then oxygenated and up oxygenated blood would mix, so it sounds as if yours is less than this, as is mine. The research that I have done reveals that there may be a connection between AF and PFO's and they also slightly increase your stroke risk. AND you would have to have a predisposition toward AF which is genetic.

You are on Wafarin which will be your best friend against another stroke but I don't think you need to worry about the hole as doing something about it is going to be riskier than not.

I am happy to say that since my ablation I have not had one significant episode of AF and my PFO saved the EP the trouble of having to punch a hole through the septum to enter the rleft atria in order to ablate for the AF so you see there are blessings to having this tiny hole in the heart!

You don't say whether it is PAF or persistent? If you are waiting for a cardio version I assume persistent? And do the drugs work for you?

Worrying about what caused your AF is not helpful but often inevitable, I know I did for a while. Anxiety is definitely a trigger for AF so finding a way to quiet the mind is the most helpful thing you can do. Meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, yoga, exercise, listening to music..... Whatever floats your boat.

Very best wishes and please, if you are worried about anything do post, there is always someone here to 'listen'.

1 like

Wow, you have really been through the mill and come out the other side. Good on yer! Obviously had some good medical interventions along the way. I feel genetics play a strong part in whether or not you get AF, this is confirmed by my EP and family history. He also said there is a large element of bad luck so urged me not to dwell on it too much.

Best wishes for a healthier future.



Lisa - I do feel for you. What an absolute nightmare you've had. I hope you are soon well again. Afraid I have no idea what caused your Afib. I would go with whatever you suspect caused it until proved otherwise. Big healing hug. X



You have done very well to get through these horrendous experiences and I hope you now continue to improve

best wishes,



Thanks for your replies. I've been told I'm in permanent A fib , I can't feel it , but the heart monitor I had to wear for a day has proved this ready for my cardio version. There is a history of heart condition in the family as my mother had a fid following DVT, and my grandmother had a stroke. I'm on bisoprolol 10mg with no side effects so far, digoxin 250mcg, ramril 1.5mg, omeprazole 20 mg and atorvastatin 20mg. The only problem I have with this mixture is my hair thinning quite badly. And my nose runs almost continuously !


My heart goes out to you after your very traumatic time, what an absolutely dreadful journey you have had. I was told I had a hole in my heart when I had a TOE one week before my ablation. I was more concerned with that than I was about having the ablation. However, as I had lived with it for 65 years I guess it was no big deal. I hope things soon get better for you.


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