My Crozer-Keystone Story: Johnnie Robinson, Stroke Patient - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on October 26, 2015

My Crozer-Keystone Story: Johnnie Robinson, Interventional Cardiology

Crozer-Keystone Health SystemMedia Contact:
Mary Wascavage
(610) 284-8619

Following a series of strokes, diagnostic X-rays
revealed a hole in the wall of Robinson's heart.

Johnnie Robinson, of Morton, had a series of strokes while at work on February 12, 2015. During one of them, Robinson had collapsed and was rushed by ambulance to Crozer-Chester Medical Center. When Robinson arrived at the hospital, his blood sugar had plummeted to 70. The doctors and nurses ran a series of tests to determine the cause of the strokes.

A CT scan, EKG, blood work and X-rays were taken. The chest X-rays revealed a hole in the wall of his heart called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), between the left and right atria. The stroke had affected both sides of his brain, causing a clot to form. The clot traveled up from his legs through the hole in his heart.

PFO occurs at birth when the foramen ovale fails to close. The foramen ovale is a hole in the wall between the heart’s left and right atria chambers and is present in every human fetus. This hole allows blood to bypass the fetal lungs, which cannot work until they are exposed to air.

When a newborn enters the world and takes its first breath, the foramen ovale closes and within a few months it has sealed completely in about 75 percent of people. When it remains open, it is called a patent foramen ovale (“patent” meaning open). It is not a problem for the vast majority of the millions of people with a PFO, even though blood is leaking from the right atrium to the left. Problems can arise when that blood contains a blood clot, which is what caused Robinson’s stroke. Depending on whether the clot takes a right or left turn as it exits the heart, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or mini-stroke.

While Robinson was at the hospital in February 2015, he was evaluated by a neurologist, who recommended that the hole be closed. He saw Muhammad Raza, M.D., Crozer-Keystone interventional cardiologist, who performed a minimally invasive procedure to install a closure device or plug. Robinson had the procedure during his hospital stay and was transferred to a rehabilitation facility after leaving the hospital.

Just like most patients with PFO, Robinson did not even know that anything was wrong. “The doctors told me that I would have never known I had the hole unless I had a stroke or something happened,” he says.

“It is not common that we have to do the procedures," Raza says. “PFO is very common, but it is not until it causes an issue, such as stroke, that we have to go in and close it. The procedure helped to eliminate Johnnie’s future risk of having a stroke caused by the PFO. He is doing great. After rehab he is back to his normal routine and, from a PFO standpoint, he is having no problems.”

“The nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center were great and the heart floor nurses were excellent,” says Verleecia Allen, Robinson’s niece, who is happy to see her uncle doing better. He has come off of his medication and returned to his normal activities. “He goes grocery shopping and is back to being self-sufficient. He is hoping to return to work soon as well,” Allen continues.

For more information on Crozer-Keystone’s Cardiovascular Services, visit

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