WICHITA, Kan. – Five days after delivering her baby boy, new mom Karen Bonar was admitted to the hospital with blood clots in her lungs. Treated and released with medication, this unusual medical event was just the beginning of a year-long journey that recently led Bonar to become the first patient at Wesley to receive a new cardiovascular procedure offered by the Wesley Medical Center Structural Heart Program.
Following her hospitalization, Bonar sought several tests and second opinions before learning she had an atrial septal defect, or patent foramen ovale (PFO). “I never would I have thought that my symptoms – the blood clots, blurry vision and fatigue – would all have been tied to my heart,” she said.
As a baby develops in the womb, a hole in its heart provides oxygen-rich blood from the mother. This hole usually closes naturally when the baby is born. However, about 25 percent of the time, it does not close and becomes known as a PFO. Most people do not experience any symptoms with a PFO and go through life never having any issues. However, in some instances, a PFO may contribute to a stroke or heart attack.
“If a blood clot forms or if the patient has some plaque that breaks off from somewhere and it flows across the heart in the wrong direction rather than being filtered out by the lung, it would go directly into the main circulation and typically would then go to the brain, causing a stroke,” said Omar Ali, MD, a structural cardiologist with Heartland Cardiology and Wesley Medical Center.
Dr. Ali is the physician that closed Amy’s PFO opening. The PFO procedure is one of the services being provided by Wesley’s new Structural Heart Program. Wesley is the first hospital in south-central Kansas to offer the minimally invasive procedure.
“Not so many years ago, the only option was to do open heart surgery to repair these openings, and we’d have to put a patch and sew them shut. Today, we can do a trans-catheter repair and have the patient home in 24 hours,” said Dr. Ali.
An interventional cardiologist trained in structural heart disease performs the procedure by inserting a catheter into the patient’s groin area and moving the closure device through the catheter to the heart. Once in place, the closure device is formed so it straddles each side of the hole. The catheter is then removed. The procedure is complete in about one to two hours.
The PFO closure device works like a tiny umbrella. When closed, it is small enough to travel through a blood vessel. When it opens, it expands to close the hole. The device remains in the heart permanently to stop the abnormal flow of blood between the two atrial chambers of the heart. Within a few days, the body’s own tissue will begin to grow over the device. By three to six months, the device is completely covered by heart tissue.
“It was explained to me that it wasn’t absolutely necessary that I have a PFO closure done; however, due to my health history and the fact that I would like to have another baby someday, I decided to get the procedure done,” Bonar said. “The procedure was relatively painless and I’m so thankful they were able to identify what was wrong and be able to treat it without having to have open heart surgery.”
For more information about the PFO closure procedure and Wesley’s Structural Heart Program, please visit www.wesleymc.com/structuralheartprogram.com
Wesley Medical Center is the region’s leading acute care hospital network providing a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for patients throughout Kansas and northern Oklahoma since 1912. As a leader in Overall Recommended Care, Wesley treats more than 24,000 patients annually and delivers more than 6,000 babies – more than any hospital in a 13-state region. Wesley provides the most extensive emergency network in Wichita, with Wesley ER, Wesley West ER and Galichia ER. Wesley owns and operates Galichia Heart Hospital, WesleyCare Clinics and the Pediatric Center of Kansas. To learn more about Wesley Medical Center, please www.wesleymc.com.