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Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure: What to Expect at Home

Your Recovery

Your patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure was done to close a small hole in the area that separates the upper right and left chambers (atria) of the heart. The procedure can help prevent a stroke in some people. Your doctor used a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to place a small device that closes the PFO.

After the procedure, you may stay the night in the hospital. Or you may go home the same day. Your groin may have a bruise and feel sore for a few days. This is where the catheter was inserted into your blood vessel. You can do light activities around your home. But don't do anything strenuous until your doctor says it is okay. This may be at least 1 week.

Within the coming year, you will likely have follow-up tests to check that the device has closed off the PFO.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Your doctor can let you know when you can return to regular activities. This may be in 1 or 2 days.
  • Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift, pull, or push anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for at least 1 week.
  • Try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days. This will help the catheter site to heal.
  • Rest when you feel tired.


  • Eat heart-healthy foods. These foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. Limit sodium, alcohol, and sugar.
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after the procedure, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fibre, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • Your doctor will likely prescribe a medicine that prevents blood clots. Be sure to get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. These medicines can cause serious bleeding problems.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

Care of the catheter site

  • For 1 or 2 days, keep a bandage over the spot where the catheter was inserted. The bandage probably will fall off in this time.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry.
  • Do not soak the catheter site until it is healed. Don't take a bath or swim for 1 week, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Watch for bleeding from the site. A small amount of blood (up to the size of a quarter) on the bandage can be normal.
  • If you are bleeding, lie down and press on the area for 15 minutes to try to make it stop. If the bleeding doesn't stop, call your doctor, nurse advice line, or seek immediate medical care.

Other instructions

  • Carry your device identification card with you at all times.
  • For 6 months after having the PFO closure, be sure to tell all of your doctors and your dentist that you have the device in your heart. This is important because you may need to take antibiotics before certain procedures to prevent infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your heartbeat feels very fast, skips beats, or flutters.
  • You are bleeding from the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel.
  • You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the catheter site.
    • Pus draining from the catheter site.
    • A fever.
  • Your leg is painful, looks blue, or feels cold, numb, or tingly.
  • You have new or worse trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.