Exercise Induced Cardiac Shunt

After test after test to located a whole in my heart, no whole has been found. I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension during my rhc and I am responding well to treatment. My doctor still feels strongly that I have a cardiac shunt, possibly only active when I am exercising. My O2 levels still drop when I work out even though my ph meds have completely eliminated my sob and racing heart during exercise. Did anyone else experience this while going through diagnosis? If so, what tests did they use to help find the shunt?

Hi Wendy,

Welcome… Just had my ASD closed last month. As far as I know, the echocardiogram and the TEE are the tests used to check and measure the shunt. I was under the impression that the TEE and the RHC were similar, but I guess not. I hope you get some answers soon!!

Hi Wendy! One of the tests that led to my ASD diagnosis was a right heart cath. A right heart cath measures the pressures in your heart and pulmonary artery more accurately than an echocardiogram. I was worried about pulmonary hypertension at first because my pressures were up accdng to the echocardiogram. However right heart cath didnt show any increased pressures ut did show a shunt.

Hi Wendy,

Mine was diagnosed with the echocardiogram and they also did a bubble study right then to confirm. Did they do a bubble study with your echo?

Hope all goes well and I am glad to hear you are responding well to treatment.

Take care,


Interesting...my PH specialist thinks that my shunt (where ever it is) is helping my PH. So, they do feel that it is necessary to find it. Having the shunt helps to eliminate pressures in my heart. Yes, I have had a right heart cath...and left. This is the test that diagnosed the PH. I have also had an echo with bubbles. My problem is that the shunt only seems to dilate when I am exercising. So for now and am treating my PH and responding well and hopefully no more tests!

Wendy, that’s true! Sometimes a shunt is a helpful valve to relieve the pulmonary artery pressure, thus helping with the pulmonary hypertension too.