BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS PREVENTING CRYPTOGENIC STROKE
If you’ve had a stroke due to an unknown cause, learn how you may be able to prevent another with the Amplatzer™ PFO Occluder.
Every year, 15 million people around the world suffer from a stroke¹. In nearly 25% of strokes, the cause cannot be detected despite standard testing – these are called cryptogenic strokes.²
Research has shown that around 50% of young adults who’ve had a cryptogenic stroke have a hole between the left and right atrium of their heart, called a patent foramen ovale (PFO)². This condition is a potential underlying cause of a cryptogenic stroke. However, you can greatly reduce the risk of another stroke by having the PFO closed with a PFO occluder.
After Christine Lee’s stroke at age 33, her neurologist ordered a transesophageal echocardiogram to look for a PFO. Nearly six months after her first stroke, she had a TIA. Her neurologist then made a referral to an interventional cardiologist, and he recommended she get the PFO closure procedure within seven days.
I’ve had so many emails from readers who say their neurologist won’t make that referral to an interventional cardiologist. They just won’t. They want to know the name of my cardiologist, because they’re so desperate.”
Before the PFO closure procedure, other potential causes for your past stroke should be ruled out by your neurologist and cardiologist. If your stroke was identified as a cryptogenic stroke and it’s been determined that you have a PFO, your team of doctors may recommend the Amplatzer™ PFO Occluder.
Before undergoing PFO closure, your doctors will also evaluate specific factors that need to be considered for the procedure itself, including:
Be sure to talk with your doctor about any medication you may be taking, as they may advise you to adjust your medication before the procedure. Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight prior to the procedure. You should arrange for a ride to and from the hospital, and ask someone to help you at home (if necessary).
The PFO closure procedure will take place in a heart catheterization laboratory, where minimally invasive procedures are performed. Before beginning the procedure, you will receive a sedating medication to help you relax and a local anesthetic so that you don’t feel any significant discomfort. The catheter-based procedure involves making a tiny skin incision (cut), typically in the right groin area, and inserting a small tube (called a catheter) to guide the Amplatzer™ PFO Occluder through the blood vessels to close the PFO within your heart.
Once the occluder is placed across the PFO, the cardiologist will carefully study its position using cardiac imaging tools. When the cardiologist is satisfied with the position of the Amplatzer™ PFO Occluder, it will be released to remain permanently in the heart, and all catheters will be removed. The procedure should last between one and two hours.
After the procedure, your medical team will discuss an after-care plan with you. You should expect to be discharged from the hospital within 24 hours. You may be prescribed aspirin (81 to 325 mg) and clopidogrel (75 mg) to be taken daily for one month after the procedure, followed by daily aspirin (81 to 325 mg) alone for at least five additional months. Your doctor may prescribe additional medication beyond six months. You will have an echocardiogram at six months so that your doctor can make sure that your occluder is properly set.
Regular check-ups with your doctor are very important. Call or see your doctor whenever you have questions or if you have any unusual problems such as bleeding, pain, discomfort or changes in your overall health.
You will also be given an Amplatzer™ PFO Occluder implant card. Please carry it with you at all times and tell other doctors that you have had the procedure before any medical, dental or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) procedures. Failure to do so may result in health problems or damage to the occluder.
As with any medical procedure, there is a possibility of complications. The most serious risks include:
Additional potential risks associated with the procedure or the occluder include: