October 16, 2017

Dr. Khaled Khalaf and patient Nestor Betancourt

Kingwood Medical Center is First in Northeast Houston to implant the only FDA-approved device designed to prevent blood clots from entering the brain by sealing a hole in the heart

Kingwood, TX, Oct. 16, 2017 — Kingwood Medical Center (KMC) is offering a recently-approved device implanted to help reduce the risk of recurrent ischemic strokes in patients diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO) – a small opening between the upper chambers of the heart. The AMPLATZER™ PFO Occluder is the first and only FDA-approved device designed to close the PFO and lower the risk of stroke caused by dangerous clots passing between the heart chambers and migrating to the brain. Kingwood Medical Center was the first hospital in Northeast Houston to implant the device since the product’s approval.

Several months ago, Eagle Springs resident and father of four Nestor Betancourt, felt dizzy and suddenly lost his speech and movement on the left side. His wife Carolina called 911. By the time they arrived at Kingwood Medical Center, both his speech and movement were restored.  After further diagnosis, it was determined that Mr. Betancourt suffered a stroke caused by a PFO. He was referred to Dr. Khaled Khalaf, M.D., structural and interventional cardiologist who successfully performed the patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure, a minimally invasive procedure performed while the patient is sedated but still conscious, at Kingwood Medical Center. Mr. Betancourt was awake throughout the procedure and stated “Dr. Khalaf is the best. I was a little nervous, but once I was there – it was so fast. Everyone was so nice and explained everything.”

Normally in a developing fetus, the foramen ovale allows oxygenated blood from the placenta to bypass the lungs. This small, flap-like opening typically closes shortly after birth. When this flap remains open, or “patent,” it is referred to as a PFO. A PFO can potentially allow dangerous clots to pass from the right side of the heart to the left and travel up to the brain and cause a stroke. The AMPLATZER PFO Occluder seals the dangerous hole and reduces this risk.

“The AMPLATZER PFO Occluder provides a nonsurgical method for doctors to close a PFO,” said Khaled Khalaf, M.D. “But as the device labeling clearly states, patients need to be evaluated carefully by a neurologist and cardiologist to rule out other known causes of stroke, and ensure that the device will reduce the risk of a recurrent stroke.” Implanting the AMPLATZER PFO Occluder device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about 30 minutes. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.

Twenty-five percent of adults are potentially affected with a PFO, which is not detected until they have a cryptogenic stroke (a stroke from an unknown cause). Newly released, long-term data from RESPECT, a landmark clinical trial, showed that patients who received the PFO Closure had a reduced risk of recurrent stroke by 45 percent over medical therapy alone.

Dr. Khalaf said, “The procedure itself takes only about 30 minutes. Best of all patients who have been bedridden with strokes have seen outstanding results with this procedure and they get a second chance by getting their lives back. The 30 minutes in the cardiac cath lab becomes a lifetime worth of healing.”

“Blood clots form in our veins all the time,” said Dr. Khalaf. “These are tiny blood clots that travel from all over the body into the heart and are pumped into the lungs. These tiny blood clots (venous thrombus) get filtered by the tiny capillaries in the lungs, after which the freshly oxygenated blood is pumped out into the miles of blood vessels that feed oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our bodies. Our lungs normally filter out these tiny clots, but a 2mm thrombus in the brain can cause significant complications. PFOs don’t actually cause the stroke, but they provide a portal through which a thrombus might pass from the right to the left side of the circulation,” said Dr. Khalaf.

The AMPLATZER PFO Occluder, from global medical device manufacturer St. Jude Medical, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November 2016 for commercial use in the U.S.

About Kingwood Medical Center

22999 Highway 59 North, Kingwood, TX  77339

Kingwood Medical Center is a 373-bed acute care facility that has provided quality care to the Lake Houston Area for over 25 years. It is home to the area’s only comprehensive cardiac care and neuroscience programs. The hospital is recognized by DNV as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, and ADA as an Accredited Diabetes Center.

Our Women & Children’s Center provides Level II and III neonatal intensive care units, high-risk obstetrics, a breast diagnostic center, a designated pediatric unit, and the area’s only pediatric emergency department. The hospital also provides surgical services, inpatient rehabilitation, laboratory, diagnostic imaging and emergency services – including a 24 Hour Emergency Care Center in Fall Creek. The GI Center complete the services offered at Kingwood Medical Center: Quality Care, Close to Home.

About HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division

HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division is a comprehensive network of hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, emergency centers and diagnostic imaging facilities in greater Houston, Corpus Christi and South Texas.  Facilities in the Gulf Coast Division include:  18 hospitals, nine ambulatory care centers, 10 off-campus emergency centers, and a regional transfer center that provides one phone call access and support for patient transfers into and out of the HCA Gulf Coast Division Affiliated Hospitals as well as access to ground and air transportation within a 150- mile radius.  For more information, visit HCA Gulf Coast.