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Lariat: New way to lasso stroke risk

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bridgeport, CT (Dec. 11,  2014) – The Electrophysiology team in the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute at  Bridgeport Hospital performed its first Lariat procedure Nov. 25 to prevent  strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib). The minimally invasive  procedure involves closing off the left atrial appendage of the heart (LAA)  with a lasso suture. The first patient was a 79-year-old woman from Milford who  was discharged just two days after the procedure.

 “Patients with AFib are five times more likely  to suffer a stroke due to blood clots in the LAA,” explained Murali Chiravuri,  MD, PhD, who performed the hospital’s first Lariat procedure with the  assistance of fellow cardiac electrophysiologist Robert Winslow, MD.

The LAA is a small pouch on  the left atrium of the heart. During AFib, the irregular rhythm of the heart  causes blood to pool in the LAA, which allows clots to form. The LAA is  responsible for approximately 95 percent of the clots that cause strokes in  patients with AFib.

“Patients with AFib are  often prescribed blood-thinning medication to reduce the likelihood of clots  forming,” said Dr. Winslow. “For those unable to tolerate blood thinners, the  Lariat procedure offers a highly effective alternate treatment.”

During the Lariat procedure,  cardiologists use a delivery device to guide a small, pre-tied lasso suture to  the LAA. The suture is tightened around the base of the LAA, permanently  sealing it off from the rest of the heart. Once the LAA is sealed, blood  continues to flow normally to the rest of the heart.

The procedure results in  minimal discomfort to patients and helps them avoid open-heart surgery. In  addition, patients do not require the frequent medical visits and blood tests  they would require if they were on blood thinners.

“The Lariat procedure  provides us with yet another tool to effectively treat heart conditions in a  way that reduces discomfort, inconvenience and recovery time for our patients,”  said Stuart Zarich, MD, chief of Cardiology at the hospital. “Patient-centered  care helps drive quality and innovation.”

The Joel E. Smilow Heart  Institute at Bridgeport Hospital has been a leader in innovative cardiac care  for more than a half century. Other treatments for heart rhythm disorders  provided by the hospital include minimally invasive catheter ablation and  hybrid ablation, which combines the best approaches of medical and surgical  techniques.

Part of Yale New Haven Health System,  Bridgeport Hospital is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to  Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven  counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than  240,000 outpatient visits annually.