South Denver Cardiology are industry leaders in PFO diagnosis and treatment


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South Denver Cardiology, in Littleton, is a leader in treating and monitoring patients who have problems related to Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) because they are constantly involved in research, trial studies and work to provide patients with the latest treatment options.
More than a quarter of the U.S. population has a hole in the heart. For most, a hole causes no adverse health effects. In fact, the vast majority of those with a PFO will never even know its there.
There are two kinds of holes in the heart. One is an atrial septal defect (ASD), and the other is a PFO. Both are technically holes in the wall of tissue between the left and right upper chambers of the heart.
An ASD is a failure of the septal tissue to form between the atria. An ASD is something a person is born with. An ASD is larger than a PFO and presents with more symptoms.
A PFO occurs after birth when the foramen ovale fails to close. PFO expert, Dr. Lee MacDonald of the South Denver Cardiology Associates, described a PFO as a paper-thin flap in the heart.
MacDonald said they often suspect a PFO when a younger patient has a stroke.
“You get a 30 to 40-year-old having a stroke and that raises a lot of warning signs,” MacDonald said. “A PFO is essentially a flap in the heart that at times is closed and at other times is open. With some bad luck, the flap can be open when a clot moves through.”
Symptoms or health concerns come up when the blood leaking between the right atrium to the left contains a blood clot. For someone without a PFO, the lungs can withstand a clot and the body can deal with it. However, when a small clot is passed through a PFO, going through the side of the heart that pumps blood into the body, it can travel to the brain, impacting speech, causing blindness and stroke-like symptoms.
At one time, MacDonald said the only way to treat a PFO was through open-heart surgery. This required opening the patient up, long recovery time and a lot more risk.
However, through research and participating in the latest treatment options, South Denver Cardiology has a team of experts that have been providing a catheter-based procedure for more than a decade.
The catheter-based procedure allows the cardiologist to slowly move a long, thin, flexible hollow tube from a small incision in the inner thigh, advancing it slowly up to the heart.
“At the end of this procedure patients literally just need a band-aid,” MacDonald said. “We have seen close to a 99 percent success rate with this procedure, and we significantly improve a patient’s chances of not having anymore strokes or issues related to the PFO.”
While the catheter-based procedure has proven successful, MacDonald said it is only approved for younger patients in the U.S. who have suffered from a stroke and a PFO is the suspected culprit.
“Not every stroke case is caused by a PFO, but we are finding more and more that it is the case in a large percentage of young patients,” MacDonald said. “At South Denver Cardiology we are leaders in treating PFOs because we pride ourselves on being a part of the research, and staying up on anything that helps our patients get the best and most personalized treatment options.”
Learn more about South Denver Cardiology Associates and the South Denver Heart Center by visiting the website at Likes us on Facebook and Subscribe to us on YouTube.


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