Sanford Heart Hospitals in Fargo and Sioux Falls now provide a new, minimally invasive procedure for atrial fibrillation (AF) patients who are intolerant of blood-thinning medications. Atrial fibrillation is a heart disorder that affects nearly 3 million adults in the United States.
The procedure, which uses the FDA-approved LARIAT® Suture Delivery Device, provides a permanent, one-time solution to reduce complications surrounding the disorder -- primarily the risk of stroke. Sanford Heart Hospital locations are the only facilities in North Dakota and South Dakota to offer this therapy.
People with AF have an irregular heartbeat -- either too fast or too slow. The disruption makes it difficult for the heart's upper and lower chambers to work together, increasing the likelihood of blood to pool and dangerous clots to form.
Blood-thinning medications are an option, but approximately 40 percent of patients are intolerant to this form of therapy. Because people with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke -- most of which stem from blood clots in the heart's left atrial appendage (LAA) -- the experts at Sanford recognized a need.
Through a catheter procedure, cardiologists can close the LAA, blocking potential stroke-causing blood clots from traveling to the brain. Another benefit for the patients is that no metal, clip or implant are left behind.
"Atrial fibrillation patients who couldn't take blood thinning medications used to have very few options and were faced with a very real possibility of having a stroke," said Dr. Christopher Stanton, electrophysiologist at Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. "We are proud to be the first in North Dakota and South Dakota to offer a permanent solution to reduce their risk."
Once the procedure is complete, patients no longer need to be on blood thinning medications. This also means patients will no longer need frequent medical visits and blood tests, which are required for those taking theses types of medications.
Sanford Health has successfully completed the first set of LARIAT® procedures in the Dakotas for patients who are at risk of stroke from AF and cannot take blood thinners.
"This procedure substantially reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of stroke since 90 percent of thrombus originates within the left atrial appendage," said Fargo-based electrophysiologist Dr. Hung Kei-Li. "Moving forward, we will continue to strive for new and exciting technological advancements to improve the quality of life in patients with atrial fibrillation."
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