News | May 18, 2011

First Wisconsin Center Implants LAA Occluders to Prevent Stroke in Afib Patients

May 18, 2011 - Jasbir Sra, M.D., and Tanvir Bajwa, M.D., are the first in Wisconsin to implant a new device in a patient’s heart that may reduce strokes in individuals suffering from atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia. This minimally invasive procedure was part of a clinical trial taking place at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Developed by Atritech Inc., the device is designed to eliminate the use of blood thinners in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, a condition that increases the risk of stroke because of blood clots. Currently, blood thinners like warfarin or Coumadin, which are used to prevent clotting, present health risks themselves and impact a patient’s quality of life – particularly in patients over the age of 65.

The new device, known as the Watchman, is implanted via catheter into the left atrial appendage of the heart, a location where it is thought that most blood clots originate in patients with atrial fibrillation. The device closes off this appendage, which prevents blood clots from escaping and entering the blood stream.

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center is the only health care provider in Wisconsin participating in the PREVAIL clinical trial, which will continue for the next five years.

The placement of these devices requires cooperation and collaboration between multiple specialties and caregivers, and marks a potential new era in the treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation.

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