Monday, December 03, 2007

Hole elevates stroke risk of older patients, too

An article recently published by The New England Journal of Medicine shows that like the not-so-old set, people over 55 face a higher risk of stroke if a patent foramen ovale (or PFO, a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart) is present.

The article cites a study of 503 patients and reports that a "patent foramen ovale was more than twice as common in older patients with a crytogenic stroke" -- that is, a stroke with no obvious cause -- "as it was with a group of patients with stroke of known origin," according to a MedPage Today article.

"Consistent with previous studies," the article says, "cryptogenic stroke patients younger than 55 had a threefold greater prevalence of patent foramen ovale than did the patients with stroke of known cause."

Should those patients have those PFOs closed? Studies are ongoing. So if you fall into that category, stay in contact with a neurologist or cardiologist and keep tabs on new developments.