Patent foramen ovale: is stroke due to paradoxical embolism?
A patent foramen ovale has been reported to be significantly more frequent in young stroke patients than in matched control subjects, and paradoxical embolism has been suggested as the main mechanism of stroke in this situation. The present study was designed to test this hypothesis.
Sixty-eight consecutive patients under 55 years of age presenting with an ischemic stroke had an extensive workup, including transesophageal echocardiography with contrast. We compared the prevalence of criteria for the diagnosis of paradoxical embolism in patients with and without a patent foramen ovale.
A patent foramen ovale was found in 32 patients (47%). A Valsalva-provoking activity was present at stroke onset in six patients with a patent foramen ovale and in eight patients with no patent foramen ovale (chi 2 = 0.1, nonsignificant). Clinical/radiological features suggestive of an embolic mechanism were not more frequent in patients with a patent foramen ovale. Clinical evidence of deep vein thrombosis was present in one patient with a patent foramen ovale and in none of the others. No occult venous thrombosis was found in a subgroup of patients with a patent foramen ovale and no definite cause for stroke who underwent venography (n = 13).
Our results do not support the hypothesis that paradoxical embolism is the primary mechanism of stroke in patients with a patent foramen ovale.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association