Atrial fibrillation is the irregular and rapid beating of the upper two chambers of the heart (the atria). It can cause symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness and breathlessness, or there may be no symptoms. People with atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of stroke. Blood clots often form in the left atrial appendage, which is a small sac off the left atrium. These clots can travel in the blood to the brain, where they may block the blood flow. To avoid clot formation patients are treated with oral anticoagulants.
Oral anticoagulation is an effective treatment to reduce the rate of stroke that occurs as a result of atrial fibrillation. But it is not exempt of side effects, even of lethal as the intracranial hemorrhage.
Left atrial appendage closure is an effective therapy to replace oral anticoagulation. The procedure is done percutaneously: A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into a vein in the top of the leg (the femoral vein). This tube is guided up the vein into the right atrium, through the wall between the two atria and into the left atrium. A special device is moved down the tube into place at the mouth of the left atrial appendage. The device stops any blood clots that form from getting into the bloodstream (VIDEO 4). Once the appendage is sealed, patient's own cells will cover the disc of the device creating a natural membrane that will occlude completely the appendage. This leads to the exclusion of the structure where most thrombi are formed in patients with atrial fibrillation. This intervention has proven to be as effective as oral anticoagulation to prevent stroke on patients with atrial fibrillation.
To determine whether you are eligible for this technology you will require a complete evaluation by our medical team with a blood test and a transesophageal echocardiography.