Henry Ford Offers New Operation for Atrial Fibrillation


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DETROIT — A team of heart doctors at Henry Ford Hospital is the first in Michigan to perform a new catheter-based procedure which limits the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation who cannot take blood-thinning medications. 

The procedure requires a team of heart specialists, including physicians who are experts in catheter manipulation, heart imaging and treatment of heartbeat abnormalities.

During the minimally invasive procedure, doctors deliver a device through a catheter inserted under the rib cage to the heart, and thread a second catheter from an artery in the leg to guide the device into place. The Henry Ford team used the FDA-approved LARIAT® Suture Delivery Device to tie off the left atrial appendage and permanently isolate it from the rest of the heart. The procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization lab under X-ray guidance and requires no incision.

More than three million Americans suffer from the heart rhythm abnormality called atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). This irregular heartbeat predisposes patients to develop blood clots in a heart structure called the left atrial appendage. Clots can travel to the brain, causing a stroke.

To prevent clots from forming, patients with A-Fib are often placed on blood thinners such as Coumadin or Pradaxa but many patients cannot tolerate blood thinners, due to bleeding complications.

"The LARIAT procedure is a major advance in treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation who cannot take blood thinners," says William W. O'Neill, M.D., medical director of the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford Hospital. "These patients had no other treatment options and were at increased risk of stroke. Now, we can definitely limit the risk of stroke in these patients."

The Henry Ford team, led by Mayra Guerrero, M.D., director of the Structural Heart Disease Fellowship, and Claudio Schuger, M.D., director Cardiac Electrophysiology Service, in the Edith and Benson Ford Heart & Vascular Institute, recently performed the new procedure on three Detroit-area patients.

For more information on the LARIAT procedure for A-Fib patients, call 313-916-1534.

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