Entertainer Jimmy Osmond had a hole in the heart for 40 years before he found it the hard way:
Jimmy was given a bubble echocardiogram - a procedure in which an ultrasound scan of the heart is followed by an injection of a bubble of saline (purified water) into the arm to make the heart functions more visible.
It revealed a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) - a hole the size of a pound coin in the septal wall that separates the right and upper left chambers of the heart. It was a birth defect that had gone undetected.
Jimmy had been through many insurance medicals but had never been given an echocardiogram as there had not appeared to be any need for one. No abnormal heart sounds had been detected, and his blood pressure and cholesterol were normal.
"My doctor explained that over time, tiny blood clots that he described as 'particles' had travelled from my heart to my brain, forming a large clot. and this is what had caused the stroke," says Jimmy.
The Daily Mail article included the great graphic (above) that explains the procedure quite well.