Before birth, babies rely on their mothers for oxygen. A mother’s oxygen-rich blood travels from the right atrium to the left atrium of a baby’s developing heart through a small, open flap called the foramen ovale.
All babies are born with this tiny hole in their hearts, but in most cases the hole closes within six months. For a quarter of the population, though, the hole never closes, a condition known as patent foramen ovale (PFO). This opens the door for recurring strokes.
Enter Richard Smalling, M.D., Ph.D., director of interventional cardiology with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center. Smalling led an eight-year nationwide clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of the Amplatzer PFO Occluder, a device that can patch up this congenital heart defect in less than an hour. The trial ended in late 2011 and follow-up data from nearly six years later shows the device reduces the risk of recurrent stroke by 45 to 62 percent.
“The beauty of it is: It’s delivered via a catheter that we insert through a vein in the leg,” Smalling explained.
The PFO Occluder is outfitted with two discs made of woven nickel titanium mesh, one the size of a nickel and the other the size of a quarter.
Before the device is inserted in the catheter, it is stretched to assume the shape of the tube. Once the catheter enters the left atrium through the hole in the heart, the smaller mesh disc expands and tugs against the wall between the heart’s two upper chambers to collapse the flap. The second, larger disc springs open as the catheter is retracted in the right atrium. With the flap securely sandwiched between both discs, heart tissue heals over the device within six months, creating a new wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.
According to Smalling, the device, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, provides a simple, yet elegant, solution for many patients. “With the device, we can at least eliminate one cause of recurrent stroke,” he said.
Harris Health System@harrishealth
Going through menopause can be a bit like traveling in a new city without a map—or even a clear destination. In fact, you may not even realize you’re there until you’ve passed it. Here's how to better cope with this midlife milestone. https://t.co/6s25Aji4oe https://t.co/YUNpLFz3hh
.@VANatCemeteries Veteran sees duty at 35 locations https://t.co/aFx133klvV #VAntagePoint
Let’s bring to light some surprising habits that could be damaging your skin: https://t.co/7VXEaHA9CT. https://t.co/dioqIgDfHD
Vitiligo, Alopecia Merely Cosmetic? Think Again https://t.co/IrsX5jsoMq
MD Anderson Cancer Center@MDAndersonNews
You don’t need any equipment to do #strengthtraining. Here are our tips for an at-home workout: https://t.co/B6LU00kIH9 @FocusedonHealth #endcancer https://t.co/fjCJ2TuPz5
Running and enjoying treats in moderation are just some of the ways Dr. Christina Weng stays fit. See more of her healthy habits: https://t.co/ttuEhmpRmU #healthy #habits https://t.co/NNehV0jfJD
Join us for season two of @TexasChildrens podcast series, Outcomes! Every day incredible stories occur inside our walls, here are a few of those such stories.--> https://t.co/73SXLUB5Pv (Don't forget to subscribe!) https://t.co/fA7C3hgMgJ
RT @SecWilkie: I had the opportunity to share my command philosophy “Walk the Post" at VHA’s NLC meeting earlier today. I am honored to b…
This could be why your hands are always so cold: https://t.co/T6p3d32EZS
As Jay McIntosh aged, he noticed tremors he had for years began to progress throughout his body as well, affecting his hands, feet, and head. Find out how the care Jay received from @UTPhysicians restored his quality of life: https://t.co/5WlQAtYGl2
RT @isiahcareyFOX26: Amazing story by the staff at TMC News and edited by our good friend @CindyGeorge https://t.co/KHcTqCVp1h!
RT @KeriKimler: @isiahcareyFOX26 @cindygeorge Thank you Isiah, @FOX26Houston and our friends Cindy and @ShanleyChien at the TMC. @Texas_Hea…
Celebrating #WorldBookDay with some Cooley classics and translations. https://t.co/6ri3LQXBj1
Harris Health System@harrishealth
Harris Health's Stroke of Hope Support Group is free and open to all stroke survivors, caregivers and families of stroke patients. Support group meets first Wednesday of each month. https://t.co/sDOqlBkBWR https://t.co/YUorfPKRBp
TAMU Health Sciences@TAMHSC
It's time for the big game! Come and join us at Veteran's Park on Friday, April 26, from 6 - 8:30pm for the @TAMHSC Powder Puff game between @TAMUmedicine and @TAMUnursing. #TAMUHealth #GameDay #AggieDocs #AggieNurses https://t.co/ukqszafIaX