Area Man First to Undergo Transcatheter
Hole-in-the-Heart Repair at Silver Cross Hospital
Interventional cardiologists on staff at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox recently performed the hospital’s first minimally invasive transcatheter repair of a hole in the heart.
Clinically called a patent foramen ovale (PFO), the condition results from a small flap-like opening in the heart that didn’t close the way it should after birth.
PFO, which affects up to one-quarter of the population, rarely causes symptoms or complications. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Kevin Platt of Orland Park.
It’s the morning of July 15, 2019, and Platt wakes up with tingles in his right arm. He shakes it off thinking he slept wrong and gets ready for work at an area car dealership where he’s a mechanic.
Platt drive himself, but when he gets to work, he notices he can’t quite do the things he usually does.
For starters, he can’t remember the drive. Then he realizes simple things like punching into the time clock and typing on his computer seem nearly impossible.
“I couldn’t operate the computer,” he said. “Nothing made sense.”
Platt’s co-worker took notice, became alarmed and drove Platt to the nearest hospital where he was diagnosed with a stroke.
“My cholesterol was fine; my blood pressure was fine,” he explained. “I couldn’t figure out why I had a stroke.”
Doctors suspected an irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation, a leading risk factor for stroke, and fitted him with a heart monitor that he wore for four weeks.
At the end of four weeks, Platt met with Dr. Hong Jun Yun, an interventional cardiologist on staff at Silver Cross, and learned he had a hole in his heart.
“It’s likely Kevin was born with this heart defect,” said Dr. Yun. “During fetal development there’s a small flap-like opening that separates the right and left chamber of the upper heart. Normally, that closes after birth, but in Kevin’s case it didn’t.”
About Patent Foramen Ovale
PFO is actually fairly common, with nearly 25 percent of the population having the condition. But most don’t know it, and the majority of the time, it doesn’t cause any health problems.
In fact, Platt went 56 years without any symptoms of heart trouble.
However, the condition may play a role in migraine headaches, and it increases the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack.
“Many times, a TIA or stroke is the first sign of PFO,” he added.
It can occur because a blood clot or solid particles in the blood can move from the right side of the heart to the left through the PFO opening, travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Dr. Yun and Dr. George Aziz, also an interventional cardiologist on staff at Silver Cross, collaborated together on Platt’s case and recommended a transcatheter PFO closure procedure – the very first one performed at Silver Cross.
“We insert the catheter into a vein in the leg and guide it up through the vessel all the way to the heart,” Dr. Aziz said. “Once there, we’re able to feed the device through the catheter and plug the hole in his heart.”
Transcatheter closure of a PFO is a far less invasive procedure than open heart surgery and causes less downtime for the patient.
Platt, who had the surgery in September, went home the very same day. Though he still experiences lingering effects of his stroke, including some issues with memory and weakness of his right side, Platt is back to bicycling. An avid cyclist, Platt’s been known to rack up to 50 miles a week. With Dr. Yun’s encouragement the husband and father of three is back on his bike and looking forward to meeting his first grandbaby in February.
“I still take naps, and I have headaches, but I’m getting back to living my life the way it was before,” he added.