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The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small sac like structure located in the left atrium (top left chamber of the heart). The LAA normally works by slightly contracting and helping blood flow in and out of the structure. In patients with atrial fibrillation however, blood can often stagnate and cause clot formation in this structure. If a clot forms, chance of stroke increases.
Stroke prevention is an important factor in treatment of atrial fibrillation, so blood thinning medications are often prescribed to help reduce risk of blood clots that can cause stroke. However, for a variety of reasons, patients may be seeking a non-drug solution.
The Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion (LAAO) is a one-time procedure to seal the left atrial appendage. This procedure can reduce the risk of blood clots that can lead to stroke and eliminate the need to take blood thinning medication for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.
At Spectrum Health, we are able to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation an alternative to long-term anticoagulation medication therapy with the left atrial appendage occlusion procedure. We use the only approved device specifically designed for LAA closure called the Watchman device. Our first procedure was done in June 2015 and since then we have performed over 90 cases.
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