Recent Blog Articles
Improving access to hearing aids
Can mindfulness change your brain?
Five lifestyle factors that can help prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease
Transient ischemic attacks: Varied symptoms, all important
5 inflammation-fighting food swaps
Is IBD an underrecognized health problem in minority groups?
Sickle cell disease in newborns and children: What families should know and do
COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know
Happy trails: Take a hike, now
Sleep well — and reduce your risk of dementia and death
Heart Beat: Hole in the heart
Hole in the heart
All babies are born with a hole in the heart between the right atrium and the left. Although it usually closes within a year or so, in up to one-third of people a small opening remains into adulthood. This hole, called a patent foramen ovale, usually has no effect on heart function. It has been branded, though, as a cause of stroke in some young adults. Now there is new evidence that it could be responsible for some strokes in older people, too.
Writing in the Nov. 29, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine, German researchers showed that a patent foramen ovale was far more common in older people who had strokes of "unknown origin" than in those whose strokes could be traced to atrial fibrillation or other causes. A patent foramen ovale plus a ballooning of the wall between the right and left atria, called an atrial septal aneurysm, was even more problematic.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.