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Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, or “A-Fib”, is the most common heart rhythm problem (“cardiac arrhythmia”) in the US. A patient with A-Fib may have no symptoms or they may experience palpitations, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath or even fainting spells. Because the top chambers, the atria, are not contracting in coordination, the blood tends to pool and clot. These clots can then dislodge and travel out of the heart. If these clots reach the brain arteries and block flow, a stroke can occur. Atrial flutter, or “A-Flutter” is very similar to A-Fib.

An electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) measures the electrical activity in the heart and is used to diagnose A-Fib or A-Flutter. A Holter monitor, is a “wearable ECG” that can detect cardiac arrhythmias if the arrhythmias “come-and-go”.

Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are treated with medications for two different purposes. First, medications are used to control the rhythm and heart rate. Second, medications to “thin” the blood to reduce the stroke risk might be necessary.

If you have significant symptoms despite the best medications, your doctor may recommend an electrophysiology procedure to treat your A-Fib. Click here for more details ***** REDIRECT TO ELECTROPHYSIOLOGY ATRIAL FIBRILLATION SECTION ****

For some patients, blood thinners are not an alternative. Some reasons include:

– recent gastrointestinal bleed – brain lesions at high risk of bleeding (e.g., aneurysms, tumors, etc) – aortic aneurysms – recent or potential surgery of the eye or brain/spinal chord – severe uncontrolled hypertension – pericarditis or pericardial effusion – patients with conditions associated with a high potential for noncompliance

We now have an option to eliminate the need for blood thinners immediately for patients unable to take blood thinners.

The LARIAT® Suture Delivery Device (SentreHeart Inc.), is an innovative and minimally invasive procedure to eliminate the need for blood thinners immediately.

How LARIAT Works: With A-Fib, nearly all the strokes are related to blood clots from the left atrial appendage, a small corner of the left atrium. The LARIAT Suture Delivery Device uses minimally invasive techniques to isolate the left atrial appendage from the rest of the heart. The left atrial appendage, and more importantly the need for blood thinners, is immediately eliminated.

For more information about atrial fibrillation and therapies available, schedule a visit with one of physicians