October 4, 2010

Left Atrial Appendage Closure for Patients With Atrial Fibrillation

Posted in New Heart Studies, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:26 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Heart left atrial appendage transesophageal ec...

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A new study testing a heart procedure could help prevent strokes in people with atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is a very common and fairly benign abnormal heart rhythm.  It is caused by electrical disturbances in the upper chambers of the heart.  One of the biggest concerns related to atrial fibrillation is the possibility of stroke.  Because the upper heart chambers are not pumping effectively, blood has a tendency to “pool” into a small ear-shaped section of the heart called the left atrial appendage.  If blood sits in the left atrial appendage for too long, a clot is formed which can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

A new study has been testing the possibility of closing off the left atrial appendage as a means of preventing clot formation.  The device is called a Watchman occluder and it is put during a simple heart catheterization.  No large cuts or general anesthesia required!  Once the device is in place, a person could eventually stop taking Coumadin or warfarin.  The Watchman device cuts the risk of stroke without having to use medication.

The trials are ongoing so you can’t find this device in your general cardiologist’s office yet.  As the device is studied more and proven safe for everyone it may become available to the standard atrial fibrillation patient.  Between this and the new Coumadin alternative (dabagatran), we may be seeing the end of Coumadin once and for all!

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