A Fib Treatment Comes to Atrium Medical Center

Premier Pulse     October 2017

P-C-COM72272-Watchman_Stack_640x360Atrium Medical Center now offers an advanced surgical procedure that can be an important alternative for patients affected by atrial fibrillation, or A Fib.

The procedure is the left atrial appendage closure with the WATCHMAN™ device. The procedure targets blood clots that develop in the heart, elevating the risk of stroke. A Fib can cause blood to pool and form clots in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). The LAA is believed to be the source of most stroke-causing blood clots in patients with non-valvular A Fib. Clots that form in the LAA sometimes break loose, travel in the bloodstream, and potentially damage the brain, lungs, or other parts of the body.

Closing the left atrial appendage is designed to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with A Fib is blood-thinning warfarin medication.

By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke might be reduced and, over time, patients might be able to stop taking warfarin. That’s important because, in addition to bleeding complications, 40 percent of A Fib patients eligible for warfarin currently go untreated due to trouble tolerating the medicine or taking it appropriately. Depending on the drug, side effects can include nausea, weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue or weakness, and bleeding.

The permanent device is placed through a catheter-based intervention. Implanting the LAA closure device is a one-time procedure that usually takes about an hour. Afterward, patients typically stay in the hospital for 24 hours. However, not all patients may be candidates for the procedure; it is important to follow up with a physician to discuss eligibility and treatment options.

Atrium Medical Center offers a range of cardiology services, including standard and cryoablation for A Fib, cardiac catheterization procedures and open heart surgery procedures. In addition, Atrium recently became an accredited Chest Pain Center. Accredited Chest Pain Centers take an evidence-based, systematic approach to cardiac patient care, allowing medical staff to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack. 

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