Generally, a patent foramen ovale doesn't cause complications. But some studies have found the disorder is more common in people with certain conditions, such as unexplained stroke and migraine with aura.

In most cases, there are other reasons for these neurologic conditions, and it's just a coincidence the person also has a patent foramen ovale. However, in some cases, small blood clots in the heart may move through a patent foramen ovale, travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

The possible link between patent foramen ovale and stroke or migraine is controversial, and research studies are ongoing.

In rare cases a patent foramen ovale can cause a significant amount of blood to bypass the lungs, resulting in low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia).

July 16, 2015