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Importance: Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure may prevent recurrent stroke after cryptogenic transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke (TIA/stroke) in patients aged 60 years or younger. Patent foramen ovale is associated with cryptogenic stroke in the older population, but risk of recurrence is unknown. Data on prognosis of patients receiving medical treatment at older ages (≥60 years) are essential to justify trials of PFO closure. Objective: To examine the age-specific risk of recurrence in patients with cryptogenic TIA/stroke with PFO. Design, Setting, and Participants: A prospective study was nested in the population-based Oxford Vascular Study between September 1, 2014, and March 31, 2019, with face-to-face follow-up for 5 years. A total of 416 consecutive patients with a diagnosis of cryptogenic TIA or nondisabling stroke, screened for PFO at a rapid-access TIA/stroke clinic, were included. A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies reporting on ischemic stroke recurrence after cryptogenic TIA/stroke in patients with PFO who were receiving medical therapy alone, or with PFO vs no-PFO was conducted. Sample size calculation for future trials on PFO closure was performed for patients aged 60 years or older. Exposures: Patent foramen ovale and age as modifiers of risk of recurrent stroke after cryptogenic TIA/stroke in patients receiving only medical therapy. Main Outcomes and Measures: Risk of ischemic stroke recurrence in patients with cryptogenic TIA/stroke and PFO receiving medical therapy only, and in patients with vs without PFO, stratified by age (<65 vs ≥65 years), as well as sample-size calculation for future trials of PFO closure in patients aged 60 years or older. Results: Among the 153 Oxford Vascular Study patients with PFO (mean [SD] age, 66.7 [13.7] years; 80 [52.3%] men), recurrent ischemic stroke risk (2.05 per 100 patient-years) was similar to the pooled estimate from a systematic review of 23 other studies (9 trials and 14 observational studies) (2.00 per 100 patient-years; 95% CI, 1.55-2.58). However, there was heterogeneity between studies (P < .001 for heterogeneity), owing mainly to risk increasing with mean cohort age (meta-regression: R2 = 0.31; P = .003). In the pooled analysis of 4 studies including patients with or without PFO, increased risk of stroke recurrence with PFO was seen only at age 65 years or older (odds ratio, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.4-4.2; P = .001 for difference; P = .39 for heterogeneity). The pooled ischemic stroke risk was 3.27 per 100 patient-years (95% CI, 2.59-4.13) in 4 cohorts with mean age 60 years or older. Assuming the more conservative 2.0 per 100 patient-years ischemic stroke risk in the PFO nonclosure arms of future trials in patients aged 60 years or older, projected sample sizes were 1080 per arm for 80% power to detect a 33% relative risk reduction. Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this study suggest that age is a determinant of risk of ischemic stroke after cryptogenic TIA/stroke in patients with PFO, such that trials of PFO closure at older ages are justified; however, projected sample sizes are large.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Neurol

Publication Date