What Is Patent Foramen Ovale?
A patent foramen ovale (PFO), or hole in the heart, is a congenital condition that may increase the risk of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) in adults.
All people have flap-like openings in their hearts. Although these openings close shortly after birth, in some people the open flap, the PFO, remains. This may allow a blood clot to travel through that flap and into the brain, causing a stroke.
If a person has a stroke or TIA without warning and without obvious risk factors, it may be caused by a PFO. About 1 in 5 Americans has a PFO. There are usually no symptoms.