What treatments are used to prevent stroke related to a PFO?
Blood thinning medications including antiplatelet agents such as aspirin and anticoagulant medications such as warfarin are typically used. The hole can also be closed with heart surgery or with newer devices that are inserted at the time of a catheterization. Some approaches may be superior to others in stroke prevention and clinical research is actively ongoing to determine the best approach.
Can a catheter-based PFO closure procedure be used in all cases?
No. At the present time, the FDA has approved the use of some devices for only very specific indications. The catheter-based procedure has not been compared with medical therapy (the blood-thinning drugs aspirin, warfarin) for PFO closure in the “gold standard” format for comparison, a clinical trial. However, many patients are eligible for the procedure who enroll in clinical trials that are being performed to assess the safety and effectiveness of this approach.