A Serious Condition Many of Us Don't Know We Have
One in four babies is born with a kind of hole in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). It’s a flap that doesn’t close properly after birth.
Although PFOs are common, most people never know they have the condition and never need any kind of treatment. It’s often discovered during tests for other problems.
But PFOs can become serious or life-threatening if small blood clots move through the flap, travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
In the past, doctors had trouble identifying the cause of the stroke. Today they know cryptogenic strokes (of unknown origin and accounting for 30 percent of strokes in young people) are caused by PFOs. These strokes usually occur in people who are younger than 55 years of age.
PFOs also can cause problems in patients who are scuba diving or skydiving – activities that can cause a blood clot to move through the PFO to the brain, resulting in stroke.
Once the PFO is discovered — usually after a stroke — an elite team of CHI Health cardiologists is specially trained to close the hole with a special device.
With the patient under local anesthesia, the cardiologist inserts an FDA-approved device through a tiny puncture in the groin and closes the flap in the heart.
The entire procedure takes less than 30 minutes.
More is now understood about PFOs, including their relationship to certain types of migraines.
CHI Health Cardiologist Himanshu Agarwal, MD, took part in a prestigious PFO migraine trial which looked at whether closing the hole can treat migraines in young women. CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center – Bergan Mercy is one of only three sites in the Midwest to be invited to participate in the trial.
It Matters Where You Go if You’re Having a Heart Attack
If you suspect you’re having heart troubles - even a heart attack – rest assured CHI Health hospitals are uniquely prepared to care for you.
- CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center – Bergan Mercy: One of the top 49 U.S. hospitals for low heart attack mortality rates (Becker’s Hospital Review).
- CHI Health Nebraska Heart: Five-star Hospital Compare award, three-star rating (highest available) from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons for bypass surgery with a valve replacement.
- CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island: Mission: Lifeline Achievement Award from the American Heart Association for 2016, pulmonary rehabilitation program certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation in 2015.
- CHI Health Good Samaritan Kearney: State’s first accredited Chest Pain Center, accredited in Primary PCI (type of angioplasty), received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award.