FRIDAY, July 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- An innovative set of devices can close a slit between the upper chambers of the heart that increases the risk of stroke for one in four people.
That's according to an article in the August issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions: Journal of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.
The slit, also known at the foramen ovale, is essential during fetal development because it lets blood circulate through the body while bypassing the undeveloped lungs. After birth, the slit normally closes up.
But for a quarter of people, the slit remains open. It lets blood cross from one side of the heart to the other, placing people at increased risk for blood clots and stroke.
Researchers at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta found that two new devices -- the CardioSEAL and STARFlex -- can both seal up the hole.
Consisting of a knitted polyester fabric patch attached to a flexible metal frame, the devices are like umbrellas joined by a common spring-loaded handle. Deployed into the heart by a catheter, the devices seal up the slit by opening the "umbrellas" on either side of the heart wall.
The American Heart Association has more about congenital heart defects.