Patent Foramen Ovale Diagnosed and Treated at Mercy

The Heart Center at Mercy

The skilled team of cardiologists at The Heart Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, provides diagnosis and treatment for patent foramen ovale. Our doctors will discuss treatment options with you and help you better understand the condition as well as the treatment options.

About the Condition

The foramen ovale is an opening in the heart wall that separates the upper chambers (atria). It is naturally present in all babies in the womb. Before birth, blood flows within the heart using this hole. Once the baby is born, blood begins flowing to and from the lungs, so this opening is no longer needed. Usually it closes by itself soon after birth, but in approximately one out of every four people, it remains open for unknown reasons. This is called patent foramen ovale (PFO), which is considered a congenital birth defect.

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Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Usually there are no symptoms of PFO and most people don’t know they have this condition. Sometimes it is discovered during testing for other problems. 
Diagnostic tests might include:

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Treatment Options

No treatment is necessary unless there are other heart problems or the blood is not carrying enough oxygen to the body. Sometimes PFO may cause blood clots to form in the legs, especially in older people. These clots can travel through the heart to the brain, causing a stroke.

Medications such as anti-platelet therapy or blood thinners may be prescribed for stroke prevention. In certain circumstances, closure of the opening between the heart chambers may be recommended. This can be done in one of two ways:

The experienced team of cardiologists at The Heart Center at Mercy can perform a complete evaluation of your condition and help you select the treatment plan that is best for you.