Pediatric Heart Expert Forum
Chest Pain (PFO?)
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Questions in this forum are answered by pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and anesthesiologists from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This forum is for questions and support about pediatric heart problems, symptoms and topics such as heart murmurs, palpitations, fainting, chest pain, congenital heart defects (including management and intervention), fetal cardiology, adult congenital cardiology, arrhythmias and pre-participation athletic screening.

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Chest Pain (PFO?)

I'm 16 yrs old and I've got PFO. I was at a travelling amusment park on my birthday on the 8th of April 2009 with friends and there was a ride there that catapulted 2 people at a time into the air at 60 km an hour. There was a warning for people with heart conditions but i hadn't suffered prior to this so i went on it. When I got off I had an ache in my left to center of my chest which progressed to a pain and ran to my left arm and up kind of towards my jaw. It comes and goes and is very un predictable. I did a 21mile walk with the school a few weeks ago and when i finished I had the ache but my left arm and hand was just numb and felt dead it was a huge effort to try and make a fist. On the 21st June 2009, my 1st night of Irish College, the pain was so intense that i was about an inch from intentionally rolling off the top bunk to get attention because I couldn't breath or talk or even scream. I don't know whats happening and I'm scared. Can anyone please help me understand and I am unable to go to my doctor because just of things at home that I can't say anything there. Please help me.
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773637_tn?1327450515
Dear Holly,

A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is not actually considered a “heart condition”.  It is a normal finding for all babies in utero which typically closes after birth.  However, approximately 20-25% of all adults have it remain open.  Therefore, with that many people having it, we don’t see this cause a problem the vast majority of the time.  The time that it does become a problem is if you have a disorder in which you form blood clots too easily.

However, you also mention chest pain with activity.  Unfortunately, I (nor anyone on any forum) can evaluate you fully for this.  This is something that should be evaluated by a doctor, at minimum, and preferably, by a pediatric cardiologist.  The most frequent cause of chest pain in children and adolescents is not cardiac, but I cannot be sure with your history.  Thus, you will need to either work out whatever is happening at home so that you can go to a doctor, or get some external help to deal with the home situation.  Either way, this is not the place to receive a diagnosis for what could be something problematic.
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773637_tn?1327450515
Jeffrey R Boris, M.D.Blank
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
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