February 28, 2019
Osceola Regional Medical Center is now the first and only hospital in Osceola County to offer cardiac patients an alternative to long-term blood thinner medication with the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) device.
The LAAC device is a permanent heart implant that effectively reduces the risk of stroke in patients suffering from non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFIB). AFIB is an irregular heartbeat experienced by at least 2.7 million Americans who are five times more likely to suffer a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat.
AFIB patients usually use anticoagulants (blood thinners) long-term to prevent blood clots from forming in an artery, a vein or the heart. AFIB can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. After the LAAC device is implanted, patients can discontinue the use of long-term blood thinner medication, reducing the risk of bleeding which can occur with the use of these anticoagulants.
Patients with AFIB not caused by a heart valve problem and who are currently taking blood thinners can be eligible for this procedure. Compared to anticoagulants, the LAAC device demonstrates statistically superior reductions in conditions such as:
- Hemorrhagic stroke (85 percent reduction)
- Disabling stroke (63 percent reduction)
- Cardiovascular death (56 percent reduction)
"Our team takes great pride in expanding our community's access to high-quality healthcare," said Davide M. Carbone, Chief Executive Officer at Osceola Regional Medical Center. "We are always expanding our innovative technologies to advance patient care, and we believe that the LAAC device will be a strong complement to the comprehensive cardiac services offered within our Heart and Vascular Institute. Osceola Regional Medical Center is the only hospital in Osceola County offering this device, along with other procedures like open-heart surgery, TAVR procedure, and our 40-member cardiovascular physician team, which includes interventional cardiac specialists and cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgeons, ensuring our patients receive expert care."
More than 90 percent of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart form in the left atrial appendage.
The LAAC device is implanted with a one-time, minimally invasive procedure via the groin. Following the procedure, patients are typically discharged within 24 hours and can be taken off anticoagulants in 30-45 days.