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A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a small flap like structure that permits flow from the right to the left side of the heart whilst the fetus is in utero. As a fetus is using the placenta and mother for oxygenation and nutrition, the majority of blood flow is redirected away from the lungs through this flap. When a baby is born and commences normal breathing  the pressures and blood gas levels change and cause the flap to close. It is now understood that in 10% and perhaps up to 30% of the population that flap does not close completely. Of that percentage, a small number of people develop problems from the crossing over (shunting) of blood from the right atrium directly to the left atrium. Problems arise because the blood in the right side of the heart has been returned from all parts of the body. It is low in oxygen, high in carbon dioxide, it may have partially degraded blood cells (red blood cell, platelets, white blood cells), other by-products, proteins present that are potentially harmful if recirculated in the body. The lung is an incredible filter of not only gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide but it plays a role in the purification of our blood. Therefore, if a volume of blood is shunted away before it can be processed and returned to the arterial (left heart) side of the body it can have damaging effects. One of the most serious effects would be for some clotted venous blood to pass through the shunt and be pumped into the brain and cause a stroke, or into the arteries that supply the heart causing a heart attack. The opening of this flap is often intermittent and may be exacerbated by increased pressure on the right side of the heart, increased stress, coughing, straining, extreme exercise and scuba diving (pressure changes). Whats a PFO  2  3  


Sharpe Cardiology and Endovascular provide unique cardiovascular services to South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales. We provide a holistic head to toe cardiovascular service. We aim to efficiently assess and treat all existing and new patients. How do we do this?... multidisciplinary approach (experience cardiac nurse, cardiac and vascular technicians) pre-consult assessment and testing (most of the essential screening and baseline testing is done on the same day prior to the initial consult with Dr Sharpe). Good referral details are essential. same day assessment with initiation of a clear treatment plan patients requiring urgent intervention or treatment can be admitted the same/ next day for angiography/ stenting etc. Please refer to our services page to find out what consulting and testing services available. click here.         



we have a dedicated website for patients explaining PFO and relationships between migraine and stroke click here to view