Health Beat - Fall 2017 - 12

A New
Alternative to
Blood Thinners
Device offers another option for preventing stroke
for those with non-valvular atrial fibrillation
By John Berggren


any people who have been diagnosed with
non-valvular atrial fibrillation, a common heart
rhythm disorder, are prescribed anticoagulation
medication to reduce risk for stroke. Now, a new
treatment that became available earlier this year at Salina
Regional Health Center offers an alternative to blood thinners, and its use has become an exciting option for those who
don't want the hassle of taking medication or can't tolerate the
side effects.
Patients with atrial fibrillation are known to have a fivetimes-greater risk for stroke than those with normal heart
rhythms. The risk arises from the heart's irregular beat, which
can allow blood to pool and form clots in the heart. These
clots can then enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain,
causing a stroke. Prescription blood thinners have been the
traditional approach to keeping these clots from forming in an
attempt to reduce risk for stroke.
Researchers estimate that 90 to 95 percent of clots from
atrial fibrillation form in the left atrial appendage of the heart.
The new treatment uses the Watchman implant from Boston
Scientific to close the left atrial appendage.
Cardiologists implant the device using a heart catheterization procedure through the femoral vein, similar to the way
stents and balloons are used to open blocked arteries. Once
implanted, the device covers the left atrial appendage; within
about six weeks, the body forms a tissue lining over the device
to permanently close the appendage.
Patients typically spend one night in the hospital following the procedure and then are free to go home with minor
restrictions, including precautions against lifting and strenuous activity. Patients also continue use of blood thinners for
about six weeks following the procedure while the body heals.
Left and top right images ©2017
Boston Scientific Corporation


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