20% Humans have hole in their Heart - Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

Foramen Ovale is a medical condition found in most of the newly born babies. In this medical condition there is a hole between the upper chamber of heart (i.e. right and left auricle). It is a common phenomena in babies. But this hole is closed automatically within a few weeks after birth. But one in every five person is not so lucky and his/her Foramen Ovale remain open. This medical condition is called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), also known as Atrial septal defect.

What happens to our body due to Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) ?
Our right auricle contains the deoxygenated blood while left auricle contains the oxygenated blood. The hole between these two chambers of heart mixes the pure blood with impure blood. The same blood is then sent to different body parts and the same mixed blood is sent to lungs to get oxygenated. No major symptoms can be noticed of this medical condition in childhood. But as the person reaches 30's some symptoms become visible. These symptoms are:

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  • Shortness of breath
  • Getting tired soon
  • Swelling in legs anf feet
  • heart palpitations
  • heart murmurs

These symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms are more clear in people with large PFO hole, while people with small hole might never feel any symptom.
 Note: In very rare cases if a baby have both PFO and some other heart condition then blue tint may appear on skin while crying or passing stool.

Health Risks related to Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

  • A person suffering from PFO may live a healthy life, but chances of getting a stroke attack is more compared to a person with no PFO. 
  • In our last article betterhealthfacts.com discussed the effect of Air bubble getting injected into veins, which can cause problem is a person suffering from PFO. 
  • In some researches migraine is found connected to PFO. Those who have got their PFO corrected through surgery reported reduction in migraine.

Why do newly born babies have Foramen Ovale ?
When the arteries and veins develop in a baby inside the womb of her mother it needs blood supply. The hole (Foramen Ovale) provides more blood instantly to the heart to pump into these newly developed arteries. This Foramen Ovale does not cause any harm to baby as at that time lungs of mother are oxygenating the blood for baby. Baby's own lungs don't oxygenate the blood as baby can't breathe in the womb. As the baby is born the Foramen Ovale closes itself within a few weeks.

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Diagnosis
It can be done using ECG (echocardiogram) through a bubble test performed with saline water. The doctor checks it through ECG machine if the bubble passes between two upper chambers of heart.

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Treatment
PFO can be closed through surgery. There are more than 20% chances that you have got a PFO in your heart. But you don't need to go for surgery unless your doctor tell you that your PFO is causing some trouble in your body. What happens in the surgery is visible in the gif image provided here.

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Medical Conditions that affect Driving Skill

Driving is a necessary skill in modern life, as we can't even imagine living properly without it. Every day-to-day work includes driving skill. When we talk about those medical conditions that can affect driving skill then most common things that come in our mind are problems of eye sight or some problem in hands/legs or problems of spine. These are something common that anyone can think about, but there are some lesser known medical conditions that can make your driving experience worst. So it is better to be aware of those problems.

Here we will list some medical conditions that should be treated adequately, so that you can keep enjoying your driving experience.

Medical Conditions that affect Driving Skill

  • Dementia: This disease usually occurs as a side effect of  Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or brain injury. Dementia affect our judgment, memory, and decision-making skills. These effects of dementia can make driving not just unsafe for ourselves but risky for others as well.
  • Epilepsy: It is a neurological disorder that can cause recurring seizures. These seizures make temporary loss of awareness or consciousness and can easily lead to problems while driving.
  • Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders often disturb your sleep during night and might result in sleepiness while driving and it can be extremely dangerous. Sometimes even lack of sleep can create problems while driving for normal people, who don't suffer from any sleep disorder.
  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can cause lack of consciousness while driving. Diabetes can also affect your eyes and nervous system, which are extremely important while driving.
  • Blackouts and fainting while driving can also be harmful, but these symptoms indicate some underlying medical conditions.
  • Mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and panic attacks may affect your behavior. Sudden changes in behavior can cause improper driving like rash driving, lack of concentration and improper decision making.
  • Herniated disc: Also known as slip disk can cause difficulty while driving. Sometime the back pain can get worst while driving. So if you are a patient of slip disc then its better to periodically take advise from your doctor regarding driving. 
  • Cataract: It blurs you vision and affects your driving skill depending on the severity of cataract. A timely treatment of cataract can help you in driving properly.
  • Some Medications: Yes ! Some medicines can definitely impact your driving as the side effects of some medicines don't allow you to drive properly. Some of these medications are anxiety medicines, sleeping pills, epilepsy medicine, antidepressants, antihistamines and opioids. These medicines can cause drowsiness, dizziness, weakness of muscles, blurred vision, confusion, lack of alertness and slow reflex. These conditions can easily cause any mis-happening on road. Some medications are equivalent to drinking more than legal amount of alcohol while driving.

Apart from above listed conditions. there are some temporary medical condition that can affect your driving such as sports injuries like concussion, muscle tears and strains. Some anesthesia given by doctor might also make you unable to drive for some hours or a complete day, depending on the treatment you are getting. In such cases use your common sense to decide if its safe to drive or you may ask an expert.