Patent Foramen Ovale and Cryptogenic Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack: To Close or Not to Close? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Background: The optimal strategy of secondary stroke prevention in patients with patent foramen ovale (PFO) is controversial. This study was performed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the device closure (DC) versus the medical therapy (MT) in patients with cryptogenic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and PFO. Summary: Randomized controlled trials with active and control groups receiving the DC plus MT and MT alone in patients with history of cryptogenic stroke/TIA and diagnosis of PFO were systematically searched. The main efficacy outcome was stroke recurrence. Subgroup-analyses were performed according to age, shunt size, and presence of atrial septal aneurysm (ASA). Safety endpoints included any serious adverse event (SAE), atrial fibrillation (AF), and major bleeding complications. Risk ratios (RRs) and hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% CIs were estimated. Five trials were included, involving 3,440 participants (DC = 1,829, MT = 1,611). There was a protective effect of closure in the risk of recurrent stroke (RR 0.43 [0.21–0.90]; p = 0.024; HR = 0.39 [0.19–0.83]; p = 0.014). The benefit of PFO closure was significant in patients with PFO associated with substantial right-to-left shunt or ASA. There were no differences in the risks of SAEs and major bleedings between the groups. The rate of new-onset AF was higher in the DC than in the MT arm (RR 4.46 [2.35–8.41]; p < 0.001). Successful device implantation and effective PFO closure were achieved in 96 and 91% of the patients respectively. Key Messages: In selected adult patients with PFO and history of cryptogenic stroke, the DC plus MT is more effective to prevent stroke recurrence and is associated with an increased risk of new-onset AF compared to the MT alone.

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