PFO CLOSURE WITH THE AMPLATZER™ PFO OCCLUDER
WHAT IS A PATENT FORAMEN OVALE (PFO)
Before birth, there is a natural opening in the wall between the left atrium and right atrium (the upper chambers) of the baby’s heart. This flap-like tissue opening is called the “foramen ovale.” The opening allows oxygen-rich blood from the mother to bypass the baby’s lungs, which do not function until birth.
When the baby is born, this flap opening typically closes, and is completely sealed within a few months. When the foramen ovale does not close completely, it is called a “patent foramen ovale” (PFO).
A patent foramen ovale occurs in about 25 percent of people (1 in 4 individuals).1
A PFO can allow a small amount of blood to pass from the right side of the heart to the left side of the heart. In the vast majority of people, a PFO causes no medical problems, and if it is discovered by a doctor, it requires no treatment or follow-up.
PFOS AND STROKES
Although PFOs are very common in the general population, this small opening within the heart can, in rare cases, allow a blood clot to pass from the right side of your heart to the left side of your heart. From there it could travel to the brain where it can block a blood vessel, resulting in a stroke.
An ischemic stroke occurs when a blockage develops in a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain.
A stroke that is caused by a blood clot is called an ischemic stroke. After a stroke, doctors do many tests to look for the cause of the stroke (for example, atrial fibrillation). When no cause can be found for the stroke, it is called a cryptogenic stroke.
However, when a PFO is found, it is believed to be a factor that could have led to an ischemic stroke.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR TREATMENT OPTIONS
Your doctors will perform several tests to look for the cause of your ischemic stroke. If the results of the testing do not identify any of the likely known causes of stroke, your neurologist and cardiologist will likely conclude that you have had a cryptogenic stroke. If they do find a PFO in your heart, they may recommend PFO closure, or other treatments. PFO closure can reduce the risk of having another ischemic stroke. Clinical trials have shown that PFO closure significantly reduces the risk of a recurrent stroke.3
Please discuss any questions with your doctor to determine which treatment option is right for you.
CLOSURE WITH THE AMPLATZER™ PFO OCCLUDER
The Amplatzer™ PFO Occluder is a device that can be placed in your heart to close the PFO. It is placed through a minimally invasive, catheter-based technique. In the major study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Amplatzer™ PFO Occluder, most patients who were treated with the device also took blood thinning medications. (They took aspirin and clopidogrel for one month followed by aspirin alone, indefinitely.)
To learn more about how an ischemic stroke can occur due to a PFO, watch the video below. The video also shows how the PFO can be closed with an Amplatzer™ PFO closure device in a minimally invasive procedure.