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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

PFO Research Foundation website launch

New Australian based research foundation formed to investigate 'hole in heart'

Foundation Director - Dr Ross Sharpe

The PFO Research Foundation Ltd was formed late 2014 and we now have a new website up and running at We are in the final stages of getting approval for charity status and hope to update you soon. This will allow us to offer tax deductible donations to Australian residents and companies. This is a not for profit organisation.

The website will evolve over time and we are looking for volunteers to help with the website, facebook and fundraising. Please contact us via the website or if you can offer assistance.

The mission of the PFO Foundation is to increase public and physician awareness of the medical condition called patent foramen ovale (PFO) or “hole in the heart” and its importance to cardiovascular and neurological health.  To accomplish its mission, the Foundation has assembled a leadership team of physicians, researchers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs who are committed to supporting research and education on PFO and its links to symptoms and diseases ranging from migraines with aura to deadly mid-life strokes.  

The Foundation will leverage the strengths of world-class universities, medical centers and clinics to develop next-generation diagnostics, treatments and cures for PFO-related diseases.  The Foundation will also encourage the use of “big data” (i.e., publicly available datasets), cutting edge “omic” technologies and new translational research approaches like Team Science to propel the field of PFO research and treatment into the 21st century.

In this way, the Foundation will answer those questions and concerns about PFO that have baffled physician and patient alike for decades.   The Foundation’s vision is for long, happy and healthy lives for the 1.5 billion individuals who may be at risk for a PFO-related disease.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

PFO Clinics Australia launch in Sydney - New website

PFO Clinics Logo

First dedicated PFO assessment and treatment Clinic in Australia opens in Sydney.

Due to popular demand from our patients Dr Sharpe and associates have established PFO Clinics as the first dedicated PFO assessment and treatment clinic in Australia.

As you know we have been assessing and successfully treating patients with PFO (patent foramen ovale) for over 6 years throughout Northern NSW and Queensland. Patients already travel from overseas and interstate to access our services so now will be moving closer to you. 

Starting in Sydney mid March 2015 (Brisbane and Melbourne Clinics will follow).

PFO Clinics is at the cutting edge of assessment, treatment and research of PFO related conditions and diseases such as Stroke, migraine, decompression illness, and severe breathlessness and fatigue.

If you have friends or relatives who you think may benefit from seeing us, please share this or refer them to

Online bookings in Sydney, Newcastle and Gold Coast available now. Brisbane and Melbourne coming soon...

Patent Foramen Ovale  (hole in the heart)?

A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a small flap like structure that permits flow from the right to the left side of the heart whilst the fetus is in the womb. It is a dynamic three dimensional structure. As a fetus is using the placenta and mother for oxygenation and nutrition, the majority of blood flow is redirected away from the lungs through this flap.

 Of the 25%, a small number of people develop problems from the crossing over (shunting) of blood from the right atrium directly to the left atrium. Problems arise because the blood in the right side of the heart has been returned from all parts of the body. It is low in oxygen, high in  carbon dioxide, it may have partially degraded blood cells (red blood cell, platelets, white blood cells), blood clots, other by products or proteins present that are potentially harmful if recirculated in the body.

The vast majority of people with a PFO go on to live long and healthy lives and others suffer from stroke, debilitating migraine, fatigue, poor oxygen perfusion and in the case of scuba diving may even go on to suffer from decompression illness.

Visit and take the simple online quiz to see if you symptoms may be related to a hole in the heart.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Website update : come and have a look at the updated website

PFO diagram
A patent foramen ovale (PFO) often referred to as a hole in the heart is a small flap like structure that permits flow from the right to the left side of the heart whilst the fetus is in the womb. It is now understood that in approximately 25% of the population that flap does not close completely. Other defects/ holes can occur in this area of the heart. These are often referred to as an atrial septal defect (ASD). was created to help educate the general public and the patients of Dr Ross Sharpe - an Australian based Interventional Cardiologist on the common links and medical conditions related to a PFO.  

The website will focus on two of the most common medical conditions known to be related to PFO, migraine and stroke. Dr Ross Sharpe has performed over 400 PFO and ASD closures for the the treatment of stroke caused by PFO and has also presented Internationally on the cure of migraine with aura (classical migraine) through the closure of PFO.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Trans-cranial Doppler (TCD) is superior to trans-oesophageal Echo (TOE/TEE) for shunt detection in PFO.

Here's an interesting interview with Dr David Spence (Canada) at the recent International Stoke Conference, 2014. He confirms that trans-cranial Doppler (TCD) with contrast is superior to that of trans-thoracic (TTE) and trans-oesophageal (TOE/TEE ) echocardiography with contrast for the detection of intra-cardiac right to left shunt. This supports our own experience and justifies our decision to use TCD with contrast as the primary screening tool for PFO/ASD since 2009.

The investigators found that in 15% of patients that had a cryptogenic stroke and positive trans-cranial study, the PFO was missed on the trans-oesophageal echo. Furthermore, 20% of those PFO's that were missed were found to be significant shunts. Dr Spence goes on to conclude that the TCD is more sensitive than the traditional 'Gold Standard' tests and the grading system is more predictive of events than any other anatomic marker such as atrial septal aneurysm.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Migraine with Aura and PFO research presented to Europe’s largest and most prestigious Interventional Cardiology Conference. – Paris, France - May 2014

Authors Dr Ross Sharpe and Mr Daniel Traves have returned from their successful trip to Euro PCR 2014 in Paris, France to present their important preliminary research findings. The Internationally recognised Conference attracted 12,257 participants from around the world. Dr Sharpe was invited to co-chair the session on structural heart disease hosted by Dr Carlos Ruiz from New York.

The abstract was titled:
Dr Carlos Ruiz & Dr Ross Sharpe - EURO PCR 2014

In the patient series of 71 patients suffering severe migraine with aura, our success rate for complete cure was 83%. A further 14% of patients had >50% symptom relief after successful PFO closure.

Dr Sharpe states “This gives an effective response rate of 97% for this patient population. Other published papers have reported cure rates from 50-75%, so we are very excited about our results. Future research is focussing on other cardiovascular conditions which are associated with PFO.
“The key to our success is the use of Contrast Transcranial Doppler imaging as it provides us real time physiological information about the PFO, and can predict with high sensitivity those who will benefit for PFO closure. We have been using this screening tool in our practice since 2009.” – Dr Ross Sharpe

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) is a flap-like opening between the two upper chambers of the heart known as the left and right atria. A PFO is present in approximately 25% of the population. PFO is not a heart defect; it is a remnant of the foetal blood circulation. In the womb, all babies have this opening to allow the circulation to bypass the lungs. After birth this flap normally closes to form a solid wall (called a septum) between the chambers. If the PFO does not close, the opening can permit venous blood, normally filtered by the lungs, to pass unfiltered into the left atrium and out to the body, including the brain. PFO is associated with a number of medical conditions including Migraine, Decompression Illness, Stroke and other thrombo-embolic events. 

For more information, please see our webpage on PFO