Background: Treatment of patent foramen ovale in young patients with stroke is not supported by robust scientific evidence. In clinical practice, a pragmatic approach is needed to guide such therapeutic decisions. This study aims at standardising the diagnostic pathway for stroke patients younger than 55 years of age with a patent foramen ovale; elaborating a therapeutic algorithm; discussing every case in regular interdisciplinary counselling meeting; and setting up a follow-up schedule to assess clinical outcomes. Methods: This is a cohort study on the effect of a standardised treatment of stroke patients with a patent foramen ovale. The primary endpoints include occurrence of recurrent ischaemic events, major bleeding, and device-related complications. The secondary endpoints include drug- or procedure-related side effects, persistence of right-to-left shunt, and persistent cardiac arrhythmia of new onset. Results: A total of 103 patients have been enrolled. In all, 51 patients underwent percutaneous atrial septal repair; of these, one had minor post-procedural bleeding. At 12 months, 25% of this group of patients showed a latent I grade shunt, one patient a latent II degree shunt, and none had a persistent shunt. The remaining 52 patients were addressed to medical therapy; one of them experienced stroke recurrences while on medical therapy. Conclusions: This model of implementation of available evidence to clinical practice via a group-based, multi-disciplinary counselling provides a shared and coherent decision pathway and yielded a very low rate of recurrent events and therapy-related complications. This approach could be replicated in specific protocols for other complex or neglected clinical problems.
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