Prevalence of patent foramen ovale in ischemic stroke in Italy: the SISIFO study
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Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a common congenital anatomical defect in the general population with a mean prevalence of 20 %. Transcranial Doppler sonography and echocardiography, both with infusion of agitated saline as an echo contrast, have been introduced for the diagnosis of PFO. Transesophageal echocardiography is considered the gold standard. Several studies have suggested an association between cryptogenetic stroke and PFO, but the role of this condition as a risk factor for stroke is still debated. The aims of this prospective multicentre study are the evaluation of PFO prevalence in the whole ischemic stroke population and the identification of a stroke recurrence profile risk in patients with PFO. All consecutive patients admitted for acute ischemic stroke and with a confirmed diagnosis at discharge are eligible cases for the study. Demographic and vascular risk factors are registered. Clinical severity is summarized by the National Institute of Health stroke scale. Echocardiographic and transcranial studies are performed in each patient to detect the presence of PFO. Prevalence of PFO will be calculated with 95 % CIs. Univariate analysis will be performed to detect the correlation of PFO with different registered factors and multivariable analysis with PFO as independent variable. The present study should contribute to better identify the role of PFO in ischemic stroke risk and recurrence-related events. Qualifying findings of the study are represented by the high number of enrolled patients, the prospective methodology of the study and the presence of secondary instrumental endpoints.