Reducing the Risk of Secondary Stroke

Care for a Healthier Heart

A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole between the upper two chambers of the heart that doesn’t close properly after birth. In infancy, a flap-like covering typically closes the hole permanently. However, in about one out of every four individuals, the hole remains open. In most people, a PFO creates no symptoms and requires no treatment.

In others, it may permit blood clots to pass from the right side of the heart to the left side possibly leading to a stroke.

An ischemic stroke is a type of stroke that occurs when a blockage develops in a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain. Many times, the cause of an ischemic stroke is known. When a cause isn’t found, it is called a cryptogenic stroke.

The American Academy of Neurology recommends PFO closure surgery for risk reduction of future strokes in patients younger than 60 years of age who have had a cryptogenic stroke and have a PFO.

Less Invasive Stroke Prevention

PFO closure is an outpatient, catheter-based procedure that lasts between one and two hours. It involves making a tiny skin incision, typically in the right groin area, through which a small device known as an occluder is guided. Once placed in your heart to close the PFO, the device will remain there to help prevent potential blood clots and another cryptogenic stroke. Most patients are back to their normal routine in about a week.

Are You a Candidate for PFO Closure?

You may be a candidate for minimally invasive PFO closure if you:

  • Have been diagnosed with a PFO and have had a stroke due to an unknown cause (one not attributed to a condition such as atrial fibrillation or carotid artery disease)
  • Can take blood-thinning medication
  • Ideally are between the ages of 18 and 60
  • Are considered a high-risk PFO patient by a cardiologist or neurologist

The physicians on the medical staff of Texas Health Dallas who specialize in the PFO closure procedure can determine if you are a candidate by providing a thorough evaluation. You may not be considered for the procedure if you are allergic to nickel, are unable to take blood thinners, are pregnant, have a history of multi-organ failure, or have an active infection or blood clots.

Learn more about recurrent stroke prevention available through the Heart-Brain Clinic at Texas Health Dallas. Call 214-345-2678.

Heart-Brain Clinic Locations
  • Texas Health Dallas

    8230 Walnut Hill Lane
    Professional Building 3, Suite 212
    Dallas, Texas 75231


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