First Hospitals in US to Implant Next Generation Heart Device to Reduce Risk of Stroke | 08.08.20

Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center and Los Robles Health System Are Performing Near-Simultaneous Implantation of the WATCHMAN FLX ™ Device for Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC)

AUSTIN, Texas, 8. August 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Am 5. August 2020 implanted doctors from the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, and Los Robles Health System of Thousand Oaks, Calif., the first nationwide to be the only FDA-cleared device for reducing the risk of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (A Fib). The doctors working at the two HCA Healthcare hospitals performed an almost simultaneous implantation of the WATCHMAN FLXTM-Device to close the left atrial appendage through (Left Atrial Appendage Closure, LAAC).

Dr. Andrea Natale (FHRS, FACC), cardiac electrophysiologist and senior medical director of the TCAI, and Dr. Saibal Kar, Interventional Cardiologist at Los Robles Health System, performed the first procedure in Thousand Oaks, California while Dr. Rodney Horton, cardiac electrophysiologist at TCAI, the procedure for the first time in Austin, Texas, performed. Prior to receiving FDA approval, Dr. Kar served as principal investigator of the PINNACLE FLX study, which examined the performance of the WATCHMAN FLX implant as an alternative to long-term use of non-vitamin K antagonists and oral anticoagulants (NOACs), as well as other orally administered anticoagulants.

“The new implant builds on the most extensively studied and most frequently implanted LAAC device in the world and serves as a treatment option for patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) that is not caused by a heart valve disorder, so-called non-valvular atrial fibrillation,” explained Dr. Kar “This way we can treat more patients safely and effectively and get the best results.”

It is estimated that up to six million Americans have AFib, an irregular heartbeat that feels like a tremor. AFib patients are five times more likely to have a stroke than people with a regular heart rhythm.

“The device serves as a safe and effective alternative to reducing the risk of stroke for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, especially for those affected who have to avoid blood thinners for compelling reasons,” said Dr. Horton.

This technology aims to reduce the risk of stroke by occluding a specific area of ​​the heart, the left atrial appendage (LAA), to prevent dangerous blood clots from entering the bloodstream and thus preventing the possibility of a stroke. Closing the left atrial appendage (LAA) can reduce the risk of stroke so that over time, patients can avoid blood thinners such as warfarin.

“The rounded design allows safe entry and maneuvering inside the LAA, so that both optimal placement and long-term stability can be achieved,” continued Dr. Natale. “As it is available in wider variants than previous generation implants , a wider range of patients can be treated. “

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about 60 minutes. Patients usually stay in the hospital overnight and are discharged the following day.

Media contacts:
Erin Ochoa
St. David’s HealthCare
[email protected]

Daphne Yousem
Los Robles Health System
[email protected]


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