Management of the Stroke Patient with Patent Foramen Ovale: New Insights and Persistent Questions in the Wake of Recent Randomized Trials

Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke (D Leifer and JE Safdieh, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke


Stroke without a known cause, or cryptogenic stroke, accounts for up to 30 % of all ischemic strokes. Paradoxical embolism through a patent foramen ovale (PFO) has been implicated as a potential cause of cryptogenic cerebral ischemia, particularly in young patients. Epidemiological studies have noted an association between PFO and cryptogenic stroke and observational studies have suggested the potential superiority of percutaneous PFO closure over medical therapy. However, until recently, there were no randomized data to test the hypothesis that PFO closure reduces the risk of recurrent cerebral ischemia. The publication of three such trials, all failing to demonstrate a therapeutic advantage for closure over medical therapy in intention-to-treat analyses, provides valuable new data in the field. We review epidemiological evidence linking PFO and stroke and recent observational and randomized trial data evaluating different treatment strategies.


Patent foramen ovale Cryptogenic stroke Transient ischemic attack 



Dr. Kizer is supported in part by R01 HL089521 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD.

Conflict of Interest

Jessica M. Peña declares no conflict of interest.

Jorge R. Kizer declares no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Cardiology, Department of MedicineMontefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Population HealthAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA

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