Advance in AFib treatment offered at Abrazo hospitals

Dec 10, 2020

A new generation of treatment for heart patients with high risk of stroke due to non-valvular atrial fibrillation is now available at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital and Abrazo Arrowhead Campus. The Watchman FLX™ procedure may help patients who need an alternative to blood thinners.

Atrial Fibrillation is a common heart disorder that occurs when electrical signals in the heart become irregular, causing the heart’s upper chamber to beat out of rhythm. The Watchman procedure permanently closes off the left atrial appendage, the area of the heart where stroke-causing blood clots commonly form.

heart-200-x-200“Atrial Fibrillation requires immediate medical attention because it could lead to a life-threatening stroke, which is otherwise preventable,” said Dr. Akil Loli, the first physician at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital to implant the device after its approval for commercial use.

“This technology features a new, fully rounded design offering physicians the ability to safely enter and maneuver within the left atrial appendage,” he said. “Its design allows for optimal device engagement with the tissue to assist in providing long-term stability and a more complete seal.”

Atrial Fibrillation (also called AFib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib, according to the American Heart Association.

People with atrial fibrillation are at an increased risk of stroke if they are not on blood thinners, which can also increase the risk of bleeding. This can often result in higher mortality and disability rates because of an injury to the brain or other affected areas, according to Dr. Loli.

Those with AFib have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms. The Watchman FLX device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner.

“We are pleased to have available a new generation of the Watchman FLX device, which expands the number of patients who can benefit from this advance in surgical technology,” said. Dr. Loli.

Physicians at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital participated in studies of the first generation Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device leading to approval by U.S. Federal Drug Administration, and continue to participate in clinical studies of new therapies.

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