Central Florida Regional Hospital is now offering patients in Seminole County a newly approved implant that can help reduce the risk of stroke in those with atrial fibrillation (AFib).
The WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure™ (LAAC) device - a small, flexible wire and mesh system - closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage. This is where the blood can pool and clots most often form. These clots are believed to cause the majority of strokes in people with AFib.
More than 6 million Americans have AFib, a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart beat too quickly and with irregular rhythm. People with AFib are five times more likely to experience a stroke. To reduce this risk, AFib patients are often prescribed blood-thinning medications, which can carry risks such as bleeding in the brain. People on these drugs also need to undergo blood tests as often as once a week.
The LAAC device offers a nondrug alternative and is inserted with a one-time minimally invasive procedure through the groin. Following the surgery, patients are typically discharged within 24 hours and can be taken off anticoagulants in 30-45 days.
"Our team takes great pride in expanding our community's access to high-quality healthcare," said Trey Abshier, Chief Executive Officer at Central Florida Regional Hospital. "We are always developing our innovative technologies to advance patient care, and we believe that the LAAC device will be a strong complement to the comprehensive cardiac services offered at the main hospital."
Patients with AFIB not caused by a heart valve problem and who are currently taking blood thinners can be eligible for this procedure. Compared to anticoagulants, the LAAC device demonstrates statistically superior reductions in conditions such as:
- Hemorrhagic stroke (85 percent reduction)
- Disabling stroke (63 percent reduction)
- Cardiovascular death (56 percent reduction)
Patients should consult with their physicians to learn if they are candidates for the LAAC device.