Heart holes 'not a stroke risk'
12 December 2005 00:00 in Industry related health news
Patients with a patent foramen ovale (PFO) ? a hole between the upper two chambers of the heart ? are not necessarily going to suffer a stroke, according to new research.
Current opinion suggests that patients with PFO may be at a higher risk of stroke, but scientists from the Mayo Clinic in the US have found that a hole in the heart is not always the "guilty party" and may not have had an effect on the event at all.
Study author Dr Bijoy Khandheria said: "Our findings show that the hole is not always the guilty party in a stroke; it may be an innocent bystander.
"After following patients in our study with small holes in the heart for five years, their risk for stroke was no different than those who did not have the hole."
The study examined 585 randomly selected people aged 45 or older from the general population in the US. 140 of these people were identified with PFO.
After monitoring the patients for cerebrovascular events over a five-year period, the researchers found that PFO is not an independent risk factor for stroke.
Lead researcher Dr Irene Meissner said: "More people are now getting PFOs repaired unnecessarily.
"Some don't need to be fixed. For patients who know they have a PFO and have not had neurologic symptoms, I'd advise them to sit tight. They don't need heart surgery to close the PFO."© Adfero Ltd
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