When the heart or blood vessels around the heart do not develop properly before a child is born, it can lead to a number of congenital heart defects.
These days, such defects are usually diagnosed at birth, or even before.
Congenital heart defects that occur in adults are rare, but a particular type known as an atrial septal defect (ASD) can significantly raise stroke risk.
An ASD is a so-called “hole” in the heart, which can cause irregular heartbeats, abnormal blood flow, and stroke.
Open-heart surgery used to be required to “patch” the hole, but nowadays it’s possible to accomplish this without surgery.
A tiny umbrella-shaped device is affixed to a long, flexible tube, called a catheter, which is threaded through the groin up to the heart.
Once there, the device is positioned into place and opened, which covers the hole without resorting to surgery.