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Avera Medical Minute: Stroke leads doctors to hole in heart

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 10:19 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As an engineer for Dakota News Now, Micheal Borszich knows how to find a problem with equipment, and solve it. Recently while on a phone call, he noticed there was a problem, not with the phone, but in his ability to talk.

“I said fellas, am I slurring my speech? And they said yeah you kind of are,” said Borszich.

The next call was to 911.

“They asked me to repeat some words and I had difficulty repeating the words,” said Borszich.

Within minutes, EMT crews were on the scene.

“I asked, ‘Am I going to get the full ambulance ride, am I gonna get sirens and lights and everything?’ And he said ‘Oh yeah,’” said Borszich.

Tests revealed a stroke, with damage in two areas.

“About half the size of a pencil eraser that these are definitely spots in my brain, it had died,” said Borszich.

The unique area where the damage occurred was also a clue as to what caused the stroke. Vascular Cardiologist with North Central heart Institute at Avera Heart Hospital, Doctor Michael Bacharach pinpointed his condition.

“The one we’re particularly focused on is called a patent foramen ovale. And that’s a small defect between the two upper chambers of the heart between the right atrium and the left atrium. Now, all of us have one of those, and they typically close at birth within the first two years of life. That allows plaque or clot material to cross over from the right side to the left side which is not normal. And then that can lead to a stroke,” said Dr. Bacharach.

Borszich had a procedure to solve the problem.

“Where we put a little tube in through the vein in the leg, we go up to that defect in the heart. And think of it like a little disc or clamshell-type device that goes in first on the one side and then you basically close the hole is what you do,” said Bacharach.

“Cells will grow into it, and it will eventually heal up and close the hole,” said Borszich.

“These procedures, typically take 30 or 40 minutes,” said Dr. Bacharach.

After an overnight stay and a few days of rest, life has returned to what it once was.

“I’m feeling one hundred percent,” said Borszich.

Knowing how things could have gone is a reminder to Borszich of the blessings he has every day.

“I was in the magic window they like to say. It could have been a very very bad life-changing event. And yet, I was lucky enough to say it was not much life-changing, but it let me think about life, and what’s really important,” said Borszich.

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