The patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a small hole located in the septum – the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.
While in the womb, a fetus does not use its lungs to get oxygen-rich blood. Instead, blood comes from the mother’s placenta and is delivered through the umbilical cord. The foramen ovale makes it possible for the blood to go from the right side of the fetus’ heart to the left side of the heart.
The foramen ovale normally closes after birth.
A patent foramen ovale (PFO) means it did not close at birth. In many cases, the PFO does not stay open at all times. Instead, it’s more like a flap that opens when there is higher pressure than normal such as during bowel movements, or when coughing and sneezing.
Most adults with a PFO do not have symptoms. However, the condition has been linked to migraine headaches and it increases the risk of:
Specialized testing is needed to detect a PFO. An adult congenital heart specialist at Deborah may order the following tests:
Other tests to check your heart rhythm, nervous system, and to test for conditions that increase the risk of blood clots may also be needed.
By participating in this quiz, or screening or health assessment, I recognize and accept all risks associated with it. I understand that the program will only screen for certain risk factors and does not constitute a complete physical exam. For the diagnosis of a medical problem, I must see a physician for a complete medical exam. I release Deborah Heart and Lung Center and any other organization(s) involved in this screening, and their employees and agents, from all liabilities, medical claims or expenses which may arise from my participation. Thank you for investing in your health by participating today.