Dr. Angelica Jimenez is dedicated to caring for her patients but when painful migraines made doing her job difficult, she turned to a colleague for help.
"it was affecting my daily life. i was getting home later...the day didn't go by fast... i had a lack of energy," Jimenez said.
Cardiologist Dr. Adam Splaver spotted the problem through an echocardiogram, which showed blood flowing where it shouldn't be.
Jimenez had a small hole in her heart called an atrial septal defect, or ASD.
New research shows a link between people who get migraines and this common congenital heart condition.
"those patients have been found to not only have a higher incidence of this hole, but actually in having the problems associated with the hole...whether is be a stroke pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmias, shortness of breath," Splaver said.
Turns out, Jimenez's mother also had an ASD which led to stroke when she was just 40 years old.
The good news is, once discovered, surgery to close the hole in the heart resolves the issue.
"anyone who has a migraine really should see their cardiologist and ask to see if they have any evidence of this hole," said Splaver.
Jimenez said after undergoing the procedure, she no longer has migraines.
"no more medications, no more dealing with headaches around daily living," she said." i am back to my regular, high speed, effective mode."
Splaver said 25% of the population have a hole in the heart and don't even know it.