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Treatment of a Cryptogenic Stroke

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Understanding your options for PFO treatment

If you’ve had a cryptogenic stroke and have also been diagnosed with a PFO, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of available treatment options to reduce your risk of another stroke. There are several treatment options your doctor may discuss, including medication or closure of the PFO, either with a PFO occluder or, in very rare cases, open-heart surgery.

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PFO closure with a PFO occluder

A PFO occluder can be placed in your heart to close the PFO through a minimally invasive, catheter-based technique. A PFO occluder is designed to stop the blood flow and potential clots through the PFO.

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Blood-thinning medication

Your doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medication to reduce your chance of having blood clots. Aspirin (taken daily) is the recommended medication for most cryptogenic stroke patients to reduce the risk of having another ischemic stroke. Some physicians recommend stronger blood-thinning medication called anticoagulants.

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Open-heart surgery to close the PFO

Most open-heart operations are performed through an incision across the full length of the breastbone or sternum. Open heart surgeries require the use of a heart-lung machine, which takes over the function of the heart temporarily. Today, open-heart surgery is rarely performed to close a PFO.

Reduce your risk of recurring stroke

Find out how you can reduce your risk of another stroke with a PFO occluder.

Learn more about PFO closure Reduce the risk of another stroke

One week after her PFO closure, Christine was back on the treadmill running 5 miles an hour.

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.

Hear about her experience

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.”

— Christine Lee, USA
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