What are the possible causes of a hole in the heart?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 22, 2017
Quick Bites

  • It is actually a heart condition, patent foramen ovale (PFO).
  • The exact reason behind the defect is unknown.
  • Treatment is not needed in most cases.

Hole in the heart is a heart condition called patent foramen ovale (PFO). It is a congenital defect in the septum (wall) between the two upper (atrial) chambers of the heart which occurs because of an incomplete closure of the atrial septum. The defect creates a flap or a valve-like opening in the atrial septal wall. In simple terms, it is a hole in the heart that didn't close the way it should after birth.

PFO creates pressure inside the chest of the infected, when coughing, sneezing, or straining during a bowel movement – because of the opening of flap and blood flowing in either direction. 

What causes PFO? 

Hole in the heart is a congenital abnormality. In the abnormality, septum between the two atria of the heart developed normally before birth but the flap did not seal completely after birth. The exact reason behind the defect is unknown. 

Sometimes, it can be a viral infection can cause heart defects to develop. There can be genetic factors, certain medical conditions (such as Down syndrome), prescription and non-prescription drugs behind the abnormality. 

What can be done about PFO?

CFO is often diagnosed during tests for other problems. Generally, a patent foramen ovale doesn't cause complications. In most cases, there is no requirement of a treatment. When other conditions such as congenital or valvular heart disease or pulmonary hypertension are also present, the abnormality can cause a significant amount of blood to bypass the lungs, resulting in low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia). 

In certain circumstances, your doctor may insist that you or your child have a procedure to close the patent foramen ovale through methods – device closure and surgical repair. Medications can be prescribed to reduce the risk of blood clots crossing a patent foramen ovale. 

If you have a patent foramen ovale but don't have symptoms, you don’t have to worry because you might not have any restrictions on your activities. However, it is better to keep in mind a few guidelines of preventing blood clots (especially when you are travelling). 

Image source: Onlymyhealth


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