What type of “D” will be best for Kris Letang following his stroke ?
Kris Letang’s recent stroke and press surrounding what may have contributed to it (doctors found a small PFO) are certainly making waves again about PFO closure. Will he be able to play professional hockey again? It is certainly too early to tell. Some reports have even started to circulate in the sports media that Kris has undergone PFO closure but nothing has been confirmed. In the short term, Kris will now have to play another type of “D“, and it will be not guarding the blue line on the ice, rather it will be a decision on what type of defense he wants to take against further stroke. If in fact he has already opted to have PFO closure, the reports from the Penguins medical staff that Kris will “miss six weeks” while he is on blood thinners don’t convince experts either way of what type of defense Kris has chosen. The reason is that the usual course of post-op precautions following PFO closure would have Kris continue to take a blood thinner of some type for an average of that time frame, six weeks, before reducing the need for thinning to a daily low dose (perhaps aspirin) later on. The reports therefore aren’t conclusive to this point for medical management over a more permanent and hockey friendly option, PFO closure.
Is PFO Closure Dead?
If Kris Letang can still choose this procedure to get back to what he loves to do, then PFO closure still remains an acceptable, although controversial option. If you remember, former New England Patriots’ linebacker Tedy Bruschi also chose PFO closure as his best defense to get back on the football field and return to the NFL following his stroke.
Coumadin and Hockey Skates don’t mix
If Kris Letang decides to play hockey again, he and the medical staff with the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to make difficult decisions. Again, Letang can elect to have the hole in his heart closed, or he can return to play after he is taken off of blood-thinners (?coumadin). The blood-thinners will not correct his congenital heart defect (PFO) , but they can reduce the risk of more blood clots possibly passing through the PFO which can cause a stroke. Because coumadin and hockey skates aren’t generally the best of friends, the line of thought is Letang must have some sort of PFO procedure. Letang’s doctors must weigh the risks after Kris comes off blood thinners to be certain it is safe to return to the ice. I made the same decision for PFO closure as my best defense against additional strokes almost seven years ago for the reasons I referenced in this article.
David Dansereau -Know-Stroke.org
Be sure to visit my new updated video resource for PFO / Stroke / Brain Health at know-pfo.org
PFO Links mentioned in this article: