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Reduce Your Risk For Arrhythmia, Stroke, and Heart Failure With PFO/ASD Closure

A hole in your heart sounds like a pretty serious condition; however, the truth is that about 2,118 babies in the United States are born each year with an atrial septal defect. In other words, about 1 in every 2,000 babies born in the United States each year are born with a hole in their heart. Why isn’t this more alarming, you may ask? The answer is that, although more than a quarter of the population has a hole in their heart, most will never experience any adverse health effects.


For those that do, Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, the best heart doctor in Tampa Bay, can provide you with safe and effective options for treatment. Continue reading to learn more about the two types of holes in the heart and how you could benefit from a PFO/ASD closure procedure. 

What is an Atrial Septal Defect?

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a birth defect of the heart in which the septal tissue fails to form between the left and right upper chambers of the heart. Every child is born with an opening between their upper heart chambers; however, these openings typically close during pregnancy or shortly after birth. An atrial septal defect occurs when these openings do not close properly, and a hole is left behind. 


The larger the hole is, the more likely you are to experience symptoms. If the opening is large enough, it will gradually damage the lung arteries over time due to the extra blood being pumped in. Typical signs and symptoms of a large or untreated atrial septal defect include:


  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Frequent respiratory infections

  • A heart murmur 

  • Heart rhythm difficulties

  • Swelling of the legs, feet, or stomach

  • Increased risk of stroke

  • Increased risk of heart attack


Related: What is Atrial Fibrillation? 

What is a Patent Foramen Ovale? 

A patent foramen ovale (PFO), on the other hand, only occurs after birth when the hole in the wall between the left and right upper chambers of the heart fails to close. PFOs are relatively common with about 25 percent of the normal population experiencing this type of hole, but most never experience any serious side effects. It’s unclear what causes the foramen ovale, or small flap-like opening, to stay open in some people; however, genetics may play a role. Risks and symptoms of PFO may include:


  • Increased risk of stroke

  • Migraine headaches

  • Increased risk of transient ischemic attack (TIA)

  • Increased risk of heart attack

Could You Benefit From a PFO/ASD Closure? 

As previously stated, most people with PFO and ASD will experience no side effects. However, in some people, blood clots can travel through a small flap-like opening and into the brain, clog arteries, cut off blood flow, and cause you to be at greater risk for stroke, heart enlargement, rhythm disruption, heart attack, TIA, and pulmonary hypertension. To close the hole in the septal wall between your left and right upper chambers of the heart, a Tampa heart doctor may recommend a PFO/ASD closure. During this procedure, a catheter will be inserted into your vein and threaded into the heart where it can secure a small, umbrella-like device to plug the hole between the atria. Once the device has been appropriately positioned, the catheter is then withdrawn from the body.


This type of procedure usually only requires a one-night hospital stay with very few complications. Most patients are able to resume normal daily activities within a week. The number one way to prevent serious problems like a stroke or heart attack from occurring is by paying attention to your symptoms and treating them early on. If you have a history of ASD or PFO, you should regularly be seen by the best heart doctor in Tampa Bay to look out for problems and ensure no additional treatment is needed.

To consult Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, the best heart doctor in Tampa Bay, please call (813) 344-0934 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.


Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services of Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. 


The content, views, and opinions communicated on this website do not represent the views of Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk. Although this website contains links to other medical websites, this is strictly for informational purposes. Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC is not responsible nor does the medical practice approve of the content featured on any third party linked websites referenced on this website.

Florida Medical Clinic Cardiology

14320 Bruce B Downs Blvd.

Tampa, Florida 33613

Tel: 813.344.0934

Fax: 813.355.5020

2727 W M.L.K. Jr Blvd Ste 760,

Tampa, Florida 33607

Tel: 813.344.0934

Fax: 813.355.5020

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