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Living with a PFO after a Stroke

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During a stroke, brain cells do not get the oxygen they need. This causes brain cells to die. The effects of a stroke depend on where in the brain it occurs and how much cell death it causes.

There are many physical, cognitive and emotional changes that are common after a stroke:

  • Trouble speaking or understanding language
  • Feelings of anger or depression
  • Forgetfulness, confusion
  • Weakness, paralysis, fatigue

How to reduce risk of another stroke

Once you have had a stroke, you are likely to have another one.¹ You have the power to reduce that risk through diet, exercise, and medication management. Keep in mind that lifestyle changes will not close your PFO.

Learn how PFO closure reduces risk


High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for stroke. Work with your health care provider to bring your blood pressure to goal.


Have your cholesterol checked regularly. Medication and healthy lifestyle habits can help lower your cholesterol levels.


Have your blood sugar tested. Some people have diabetes, and don’t know it until something, like a stroke, happens.


Cigarette smoking increases the risk of stroke. If you smoke, talk with your health care provider about how to quit.


Physical activity reduces the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and maybe a stroke itself. It can also improve recovery. Your health care team can help with a plan that’s right for you.


If you drink alcohol, limit it to 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.

  1. Benjamin EJ, Muntner P, Alonso A, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2019 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2019;139:e56–e528. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000659
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