Health Care and Technology

Spectrum Health reaches for Lariat 'lasso' to prevent strokes

April 2, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Spectrum uses new device for Afib patients
Finta

Cardiologists at Spectrum Health’s Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center are the first in West Michigan to perform a minimally invasive procedure to tie off a left atrial appendage (LAA), which can be a source of blood clots leading to stroke in older patients with atrial fibrillation.

Spectrum Health electrophysiologist Bohuslav Finta, M.D., and interventional cardiologist H. Paul Singh, M.D., used a Lariat suture delivery device.

Manufactured by SentreHeart, of Redwood City, Calif., the Lariat allows a loop like a lasso to be slipped over the LAA, for tying off the flow of blood. Catheters are used to introduce the suturing device into the heart.

“This procedure is a safe alternative for AFib patients at high risk for stroke who can’t be on blood thinners due to a history of bleeds or a high fall risk,” Finta said.

About 6 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with AFib, which is an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, and one-quarter of all strokes in the elderly are attributed to AFib.

AFib is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, characterized by rapid and irregular heartbeat, chest discomfort and shortness of breath.

It is also known to be associated with an increased risk of stroke with the LAA being the main source of those strokes.

The LAA is a small sack that extends from one of the top chambers of the heart, according to Finta, who noted that it “serves no real purpose, but can form clots in people with arrhythmias.”

In AFib, the LAA can stop contracting and the stationary blood inside can turn into a clot. If pieces of the clot break off, they can be pumped to the brain and cause a blockage of the blood vessels, resulting in a stroke.

Finta said the Lariat works as a lasso that is slipped around the LAA and tightened, stopping the flow of blood to that area where blood clots form. With the patient under general anesthesia, the physicians guide two catheters into the patient’s heart to tie off and seal the LAA with a pre-tied suture loop.

“This procedure has the potential to save lives,” Finta said. “AFib patients who can’t be on blood thinners, such as warfarin to prevent stroke risk, now have another option.”

A number of hospitals around the nation have begun using the Lariat device, including Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where it was used last spring.

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