Brandon Regional Hospital is pleased to announce that it is the first hospital in Hillsborough County to offer the latest alternative to long-term blood thinner medications with a newly designed left atrial appendage closure device. A first-of-its-kind, the device is a proven alternative to blood thinners for stroke risk reduction in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

The device closes the left atrial appendage (LAA) with a new design that is conducive to more patient anatomies, expanding the treatable patient populations. Patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who are at increased risk for stroke and systemic embolism, are suitable for blood thinners and are seeking a non-pharmacologic alternative to warfarin may be eligible for the device. By closing off the LAA, a thin, sack-like appendix arising from the left side of the heart that is believed to be the source of a majority of stroke-causing blood clots in people with non-valvular AF, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking blood thinner medications.

The left atrial appendage closure device can be implanted safely and enables patients to discontinue blood thinner medications and reduces atrial fibrillation stroke risk comparably to blood thinners. In addition, the device has demonstrated statistically superior reductions in hemorrhagic stroke, disabling stroke and cardiovascular death compared to blood thinner medications over long-term follow-up.

“Implanting the left atrial appendage closure device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour and is typically conducted with general anesthesia,” said Umesh Gowda, MD, Structural Heart Medical Director. “The device is designed to permanently close off the LAA, believed to be the source of a majority of stroke-causing blood clots and thereby avoid the migration of emboli to the brain. The team at Brandon Regional Hospital is excited to be the first to offer this new innovative procedure to patients in our community.”

The device is approved in more than 70 countries and over 100,000 implants have been performed worldwide. Following the minimally invasive procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.