Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Stroke Risk
Minimally Invasive Treatments include Left Atrial Appendage Closure
Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) face a higher risk of stroke than the general population. This is a major problem as AF affects an estimated 2.7-6.1 million people in the U.S.
What Causes the Higher Stroke Risk?
AF is an irregular heartbeat due to a problem with the heart’s electrical system. This irregularity can slow the pumping of blood through the body, causing blood clots to form in a small pouch in the heart’s upper left chamber -- the left atrial appendage (LAA). Strokes happen when the blood flow carries clots from the LAA to the brain.
- Anticoagulant Medications - Many patients with AFIB take blood thinners to address stroke risk. This is an effective treatment for many. However, taking oral anticoagulants for life brings other factors to consider, including the possibility over time of inappropriate dosing, non-adherence, and adverse side effects.
- LAA Closure - Another option now available is a minimally invasive procedure to close the heart’s left atrial appendage using special LA closure device. To implant this device, a structural heart doctor makes a small incision in the patient’s upper leg and inserts a narrow tube, much like a standard heart stent procedure. The doctor then guides the closure device into the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart, where it expands to fill the space. This procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour.
Navigating Your Choices
Patients have many options and factors to consider in addressing AF based on their personal needs, life situations, and preferences. This includes procedures to address atrial fibrillation. All treatments come with differing benefits and risks to discuss with your doctor. Our team is committed to helping you navigate this decision-making process to reach the choice that is right for you.