In some cases, patent foramen ovale does not cause complications and one of the most serious problems is transient ischemic stroke.1
Patent foramen ovale is often associated with cryptogenic stroke in elderly people when compared to younger adults.2
What Is The Prognosis For Patent Foramen Ovale?
Stroke is one of the major complications of patent foramen ovale. There is a strong association between PFO and stroke because these patients have an enhanced risk of developing blood clots flowing through the brain. Traveling blood clots are the leading factors of stroke. Furthermore, stroke most likely to occur in older adults.1 Some of the common symptoms of stroke include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness on onside of the body in the face, arm, or leg
- Trouble speaking or difficulty in understanding the speech
- Sudden TROUBLE SEEING or dim vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden loss of balance
- Vertigo, dizziness, or sudden falls
Other complications of patent foramen ovale include migraine with aura, heart attacks, blood clots that may cause kidney problems, and blood flow to other parts of the body. Appropriate therapies are included for both primary, secondary, and recurrent stroke prevention. Several studies are in progress on the lower extremity veins and the cardiac interatrial septum for stroke reduction.2
Lifestyle Changes For Patent Foramen Ovale
In many instances, your healthcare provider may choose not to treat your health condition directly, instead may suggest alternative options such as lifestyle changes to prevent or reduce overall risk for stroke. These include
Dietary Habits – The American heart association recommends heart-healthy lifestyle changes:
Watch your portion – How much you eat is often dependent on what you eat. When you are not sure about the portion size use a standard bowl or plate to measure your food size. Also, you need to keep track of the number of servings you eat.
Increase fruits and vegetables – Veggies and fruits are the primary sources of vitamins and minerals so increase more intake of these foods and avoid preservative and canned products. Eating these types of food can reduce calories and help prevent cardiovascular problems
- Reduce intake of high sugar foods
- Use non-fat or low-fat milk
- Avoid eating outside food and start preparing healthy foods at home
Avoid Smoking & Alcohol – Adults with congenital heart problems are often advised and perhaps recommended to quit smoking and drink alcohol in moderation.
Exercise – patent foramen ovale does not disrupt heart function so people can carry out exercises and all activities normally. However, you may have certain restrictions on your physical activity after PFO closure or interventional procedure. So, check with your doctor for your restrictions.3,4
The foramen ovale is a hole located in the septum, a wall between the left and right atrium in the chambers of the heart. The foramen ovale closes as blood pressure rises after birth and once closed the infant directly uses its lungs to get oxygen-rich blood.
When the hole doesn’t close properly at the time of birth, there is a flap-like opening. This condition can greater pressure including strain during the bowel movements due to the blood flowing from the right shunt to the left. Patent foramen ovale is present almost in 25% of Americans however most people don’t even realize they don’t have it.
- SC; Cramer. “Patent Foramen Ovale and Stroke: Prognosis and Treatment in Young Adults.” Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16205857/.
- Sara Mazzucco, MD. “Prognosis of Cryptogenic Stroke With Patent Foramen Ovale at Older Ages and Implications for Trials.” JAMA Neurology, JAMA Network, 1 Oct. 2020, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2767711.
- “Living with Congenital Heart Disease: Choosing Good Daily Habits.” The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, 5 Oct. 2017, www.secondscount.org/healthy-living/healthy-living-detail-2/living-with-congenital-heart-disease-choosing-good.
- Publishing, Harvard Health. “New Advice about a Common Heart Variation: Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO).” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/new-advice-about-a-common-heart-variation-patent-foramen-ovale-pfo.
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