Patent foramen ovale and brain infarct. Echocardiographic predictors, recurrence, and prevention.
Paradoxical embolism through a patent foramen ovale is a recognized cause of stroke, but clinical predictors, recurrence rate, and prevention of brain infarcts in patients with patent foramen ovale have not been determined. We reviewed transesophageal echocardiographic records to ascertain echocardiographic predictors and optimal prophylaxis for patent foramen ovale-related infarcts.
A patent foramen ovale was identified in 74 patients during 615 transesophageal echocardiograms by color Doppler or saline contrast during a 60-month period. On the basis of final clinical situation, the patients were divided into the following groups: group 1, infarct with patent foramen ovale a likely cause (n = 16); group 2, infarct with patent foramen ovale an unlikely cause (n = 23); and group 3, no infarct (n = 35). Transesophageal echocardiograms were reviewed to assess patent foramen ovale characteristics and associated cardio-embolic sources without knowledge of clinical details or group assignment. Follow-up after a patent foramen ovale-related infarct was obtained by telephone or written correspondence in 15 of 16 group 1 patients.
Atrial septal aneurysms were more common in group 1 (38%) compared with group 2 (10%) and group 3 (8%) (P = .02). Contrast right-to-left shunting occurred in 88% of group 1 (P = .06) and 86% of group 2 (P = .07) compared with 60% of group 3. Prevention of recurrence in subjects with presumed patent foramen ovale-related brain infarcts varied. Aspirin was usually chosen after initial brain ischemia. Warfarin and patent foramen ovale closure were usually reserved for subjects with symptoms of brain ischemia while taking aspirin or those who required warfarin or cardiac surgery for other indications. No recurrent infarcts occurred in 15 patients during a mean follow-up period of 28 months.
Atrial septal aneurysm and right-to-left shunt may be predictive of a patent foramen ovale that predisposes a patient to stroke. Aspirin may provide sufficient infarct prophylaxis after initial ischemia. Warfarin and surgical correction should likely be reserved for those in whom aspirin is not effective or those who require warfarin or cardiac surgery for other reasons until prospective studies are available.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association