Generally, a patent foramen ovale doesn't cause complications. But, some studies have found the disorder is more common in individuals with certain conditions, such as unexplained stroke and migraine with aura. In most cases, there are other reasons for these conditions, and it's just a coincidence the person also has a patent foramen ovale. However, in some cases, blood clots in the heart may move through a patent foramen ovale, travel to the brain and cause a stroke. When this happens, it's often in people with conditions that increase the risk of blood clots, such as cancer.
The possible link between patent foramen ovale and stroke or migraine is controversial and research studies are ongoing.
In some cases a patent foramen ovale can cause a significant amount of blood to bypass the lungs, resulting in low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia). This usually happens when other conditions are present, such as congenital or valvular heart disease or pulmonary hypertension.
Nov. 01, 2012
- Kutty S, et al. Patent foramen ovale. The known and the to be known. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2012;59:1665.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. 51st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3671. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Grogan M (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 15, 2012.
- Bucholz S, et al. Diagnosis and management of patent foramen ovale. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2012;88:217.
- Hara H, et al. Patent foramen ovale. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 14, 2012.
- Furie KL, et al. Guidelines for the prevention of stroke in patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack. Stroke. 2010;42:227. Accessed Aug. 12, 2012.
- Furlan AJ, et al. Closure or medical therapy for cryptogenic stroke with patent foramen ovale. New England Journal of Medicine. 2012;366:991.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.