See What HealthDay Can Do For You
Contact Us

New Ways to Catch Heart Defect

Studies outline better methods to detect and treat dangerous condition

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 14, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Mayo Clinic researchers have developed improved ways to treat people with a potentially dangerous heart defect, say two studies in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The studies outline the successful use of new procedures to observe and treat a heart defect called patent foramen ovale (PFO), an opening in the heart that fails to close after birth.

This opening or flap in the wall of the heart may let blood cross from the right (venous) side of the heart to the left (arterial) side and allow blood clots to get into the arterial circulation. These clots may travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

In the first study, researchers outline the use of a new ultrasound probe developed at the Mayo Clinic. This probe provides doctors with important visual information about the location and size of defects in heart walls. The procedure can be used in place of other ultrasound techniques that may be more uncomfortable for patients.

The second study outlines follow-up research on 103 people whose PFO was closed with a catheter device. The results indicate a 93 percent success rate in completely closing the PFO, with few complications. This catheter device may offer an alternative to long-term medication to treat PFO.

An editorial in the same issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings says further studies are needed into the best treatments for people with PFO.

"We cannot assume that all patients with patent foramen ovale and neurologic symptoms need to have the cardiac abnormality corrected," Dr. Harold Adams Jr., of the department of neurology at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine, says in a prepared statement.

"Some patients might benefit substantially from closure of their patent foramen ovale; however, the procedure might be unnecessary in other patients. The neurology and cardiology communities need to collaborate in clinical studies to prospectively test the safety and efficacy of patent foramen ovale closure devices," Adams says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about heart defects.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Jan. 13, 2004
Consumer News