Ochsner to Research Link Between Migraine Headaches and Common Heart DefectNEW ORLEANS, LA Ochsner Health System is seeking patients who suffer from severe migraine headaches and also have a common heart defect, called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). The study, called the PREMIUM Trial, will evaluate whether a new, less-invasive PFO closure procedure reduces migraine headaches in patients. More than 28 million people in the U.S., or 13 percent of the population, suffer from migraine headaches, while approximately 20 percent experience an "aura" effect, a headache with pain accompanied by flashing light, vision loss and other temporary neurological changes. PFO (pronounced "pay-tent for-ay-men oh-volley") is a small flap-like opening between the upper chambers of the heart that is found in about 25 percent of adults. This opening is normal in fetuses but usually closes shortly after birth. When it remains open, or "patent," it allows blood to bypass the filtering system of the lungs. Substances such as very small blood clots or chemicals in this unfiltered, non-regenerated blood traveling directly to the brain may trigger migraine attacks. Recent observational studies have reported that a significant number of patients experience a reduction in the frequency and severity of migraine headaches following closure of the PFO. "The PREMIUM Trial is important to help determine the relationship between PFO and migraine. If the results of the trial are positive, PFO closure may provide another important treatment option for this debilitating condition," stated Dr. Steve Jenkins, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at Ochsner Medical Center. The AMPLATZER PFO Occluder offers a less-invasive alternative to open-heart surgery for closing a PFO. The device is implanted via a catheter inserted in the patient's groin. The procedure typically takes less than an hour with the patient able to return home within 24 hours. AGA Medical, based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, is funding the PREMIUM studies. Their Amplatzer Atrial Septal Occluder device is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If you are interested in taking part in this study, call Barbara Hirstius at 504-842-4833.