How Do You Fix A Patent Foramen Ovale & Can PFO Cause A Heart Attack?

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Repair is done using a catheter through a blood vessel in the groin and guides it to the PFO.1

With medical advancement, robotically assisted patent foramen ovale, an invasive procedure is also adopted for the PFO closure.2

Patients having a history of congenital heart disease or blood clots have potential chances of developing stroke and heart attack.

How Do You Fix A Patent Foramen Ovale?

How Do You Fix A Patent Foramen Ovale?

Catheter-based procedures are the most common methods used to diagnose and treat heart-related conditions. When PFO exists, there is very less blood flow between the atria and this is not a normal condition. Therefore, a catheter repair procedure is performed wherein a device(a long, flexible, narrow tube called a catheter) is inserted to plug up the PFO. The repair device is often based on the size of the PFO.1

In rare cases, the size of the patent foramen ovale may be very large in such instances catheter may not be a suitable option. However, for smaller size PFO’s, the devices act as a guide for the placement of patent foramen ovale and it becomes like a permanent implant that helps close the hole and prevent the flap from opening.

Over some time, the tissue grows over the implant and becomes a part of the heart. The procedure is typically performed at the Pediatric Catherization laboratory by trained professionals and it takes about two to three hours. Since this is a non-invasive procedure the patient can return home on the same day or the following morning after surgery.

With medical advancement, new approaches such as Robotically Assisted Heart Surgery are performed on patent foramen ovale with an endoscopic, closed-chest approach.2

Can PFO Cause A Heart Attack?

Medical studies are being conducted to establish a link between patent foramen ovale and ischemic stroke. Heart attack and stroke were noticed in patients over 55 years and these studies stressed the importance of proper treatment and to prevent recurrent events in the younger generation.

Several therapeutic procedures were developed to decrease the risk of symptoms in PFO patients. Although most cases of PFO don’t cause complications yet clinical studies have demonstrated that certain disorders such as unexplained stroke and migraine were noted in PFO patients.

PFO causes the pressure to increase in the chambers and on the sides of the heart. When PFO is open it enhances the possibility of a blood clot and other solid particles to move from the right side of the heart to the left due to forced pressure and eventually pushed to the brain or coronary artery causing a stroke or a heart attack.3,4

Patent Foramen Ovale is a small flap-like hole between the left and right atria (upper chambers) of the heart. This is the most common congenital heart abnormality of fetal origin and anatomical cause of an interatrial shunt. When the hole in the heart doesn’t close naturally, as it should, after a baby is born, it is called PFO.

According to the American Heart Association, millions of people are affected by this condition. If you are diagnosed with PFO and your doctor suggests that you are at risk of forming blood clots or developing heart attack they may recommend PFO repair. PFO is generally closed by a non-surgical procedure using a catheter by a specially trained physician. 3,4

References:

  1. “Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Repair.” University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, 20 Dec. 2018, uihc.org/patent-foramen-ovale-pfo-repair.
  2. “Patent Foramen Ovale Transcatheter Repair procedure to fix this hole in the heart.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/patent-foramen-ovale-transcatheter-repair.
  3. Di Tullio, Marco R, and Shunichi Homma. “Patent Foramen Ovale and Stroke: What Should Be Done?” Current Opinion in Hematology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851248/.
  4. “Patent Foramen Ovale.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/patent-foramen-ovale/symptoms-causes/syc-20353487.

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