Reducing the Risk of Stroke with Patent Foramen Ovale Closure

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but it is often preventable through better lifestyle habits and regular checkups with the doctor. There are also some treatable clinical causes for stroke—including P atent F oramen O vales (PFOs), which are defects in the heart. Having a PFO can significantly raise a person’s risk for transient ischemic attack or stroke, but there may be no symptoms of this issue until a serious medical emergency takes place. Read on to learn more about this problem to learn if you should talk to your doctor about your risk for a PFO.

Medical exam

What is a patent foramen ovale?
A PFO may be referred to as a hole in the heart, but more accurately it is a flap-like opening between the upper chambers of the heart. All people are born with this opening in the heart, but they typically close on their own just after birth. If you have a PFO that has remained open, there is a chance that a blood clot could travel through the opening to the brain, causing a stroke.

How is the problem diagnosed?
To  diagnose a PFO , doctors will use an echocardiogram, which is like an ultrasound screening for the heart. Unfortunately, most patients with PFOs do not know that there is a problem, because there are no notable symptoms. Still, a diagnosis after an initial episode may significantly reduce the chances of a future stroke.

Which treatment option is best?
If a PFO is identified, there are two options that will be considered for treatment. Medication can control clotting factors in the blood to prevent clots from moving through the opening. There is also a minimally invasive procedure that can close the flap through an opening in the thigh much like an angiogram. Open heart surgery is rarely considered as a treatment option for a PFO, because it can have more risks than benefits.

If you have suffered a stroke that has been linked to no apparent cause, you should connect with Cardiac Solutions to explore the likelihood of a PFO or other heart problems. You can schedule an appointment at our clinics in Sun City or  Glendale  on our website or at (623) 208-5305. 

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