Jefferson scientists test new device for fixing holes in hearts of young stroke patients

Philadelphia, Pa.--As many as one in four adults is walking around with a "hole" between the upper chambers of the heart. Most of them will never know it.

The person who learns about the "hole" in his or her heart does so when he or she suffers symptoms of a mini-stroke (TIA) or a more-debilitating stroke. And it is usually only then that the person learns the term Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), a persistent opening in the upper wall of the heart which did not close completely after birth.

"We are all born with a PFO," says Michael Savage, M.D. director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia. "For most of us, the opening closes within months after birth."

The symptoms occur--often in young adults--because the opening can cause the blood in the heart to be rerouted from the right to left side. As a result, if a clot forms in this rerouted blood and passes through the PFO to the brain, a person may experience a stroke or mini-stroke (TIA).

Interventional cardiologists have been using transcatheter devices designed to close PFO successfully for many years. Now in a multicenter study to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 55th Scientific Session (Monday, March 13 at 10 a.m.), researchers from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital assess the initial U.S. experience with the Cardia PFO closure device for the prevention of recurrent stroke in patients with PFO. The Jefferson scientists will report that the Cardia PFO closure device is effective in sealing PFO and appears highly effective in preventing recurrent stroke.

The device, delivered through a catheter, is a tiny self-expanding double umbrella design consisting of polyvinyl alcohol sails and nitinol arms. It is positioned on both sides of the PFO and closes like a clamshell around the hole.

After several months, cells grow over and cover the device and it becomes part of the patient's body. "The patient is unaware that

Contact: Nan Myers
Thomas Jefferson University

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