About Patent Foramen Ovale
A PFO is a very common structural genetic heart defect. During fetal development, the heart's two upper chambers are connected by a hole that allows blood to be diverted away from the lungs because they are not yet developed. This hole, called the foramen ovale, is necessary for healthy fetal development and closes naturally by age two in approximately 80 percent of the general population. When it remains open after this period, it is said to be patent.
People with PFO often are asymptomatic, but they are at greater risk for stroke, systemic embolism and debilitating migraine headaches because routine blood clots are passed from the right atrium to the left atrium, bypassing the lungs where they are typically filtered out. The National Stroke Association estimates that approximately 100,000 people in the United States suffer PFO-related strokes each year. In addition, several studies suggest that up to 50 percent of the 3 to 6 million patients suffering from migraine headaches preceded by aura may have a PFO.
With larger PFOs, patients may experience labored breathing, recurrent respiratory infections and heart failure or death. Today, PFOs are treated by the use of a blood thinning medication (aspirin or warfarin) to prevent blood clots, or surgically through an open chest or transcatheter closure procedure.
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|SOURCE Cardica, Inc.|
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