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Your left atrial appendage is a small pouch located in the left atrium (upper chamber of the heart.) As your heart beats, blood from the left atrium and left atrial appendage is pushed into the left ventricle. If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, your heartbeat becomes rapid and erratic.
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The atria does not have sufficient time to contract and move the blood to the ventricles. When this happens, blood can pool in the left atrial appendage and develop clots. As the blood travels from the heart, these clots can break free and cause a stroke.
In many cases, patients are able to prevent clots by taking a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin and other newer drugs that are on the market. However, some patients cannot tolerate any of these medications due to increased risk of bleeding and other health complications.
For patients with atrial fibrillation who are unable to take blood thinners, a new minimally invasive procedure that decreases risk of stroke is available at WakeMed. Using the Lariat procedure, your cardiologist can seal off the area where many stroke-causing clots tend to form in the left atrial appendage.
Under general anesthesia, the cardiologist makes two tiny incisions – one in your groin and one near your heart. A catheter is inserted into the groin and is advanced to the left atrial appendage. A guide wire is inserted at the site of the second incision near the heart. Using the two wires, a lariat device is used to loop around the appendage and tie it off. This completely seals and stabilizes the appendage, and prevents clots from escaping.
Following the procedure, you will spend a day or two in the hospital to make sure that the seal remains secure. Recovery is quick, and you will be able to return to normal activities within a week.
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3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610