People who suffer from Atrial fibrillation are typically on blood thinners for their entire lives.
But now, one area hospital is offering an alternative by way of a new operation.
“To be completely honest I did not have symptoms of AFib and I was surprised to know that I had it,” shared Nancy Brown, a patient from Sanford Health.
Brown was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, two years ago at a routine check up.
She said occasionally she would have heart palpitations, but she didn’t think anything of it.
“I saw a cardiologist and then he confirmed the diagnosis and decided which medications would be best for me. And I was just resigned to take them from the rest of my life because it’s an incurable condition. AFib is what one doctor described as a nuisance disorder. It will not kill you, but it will cause you to have a stroke,” shared Brown.
AFib is a condition causing an irregular, rapid heart rate. It leads to poor blood flow and creates blood clots.
The blood clots are what causes AFib patients to have a higher risk of suffering a stroke.
“If you have a reason to seek an alternative to blood thinners. You have a nuisance bleeding, internal bleeding or at fall risk, you’re taking other medications which increases your bleeding risk. This is a procedure or something to discuss with your doctor. And see if you can be eligible for this procedure,” explained Dr. Nayan Desai, Interventional Cardiology, Sanford Health.
In this new operation what’s called The Watchman Device is placed into the left atrial appendage to help lower the chances of stroke.
The minimally invasive, one-time surgery typically takes about an hour to complete, and only a 24-hour hospital stay.
“We put a small IV in the leg of the patient. It’s not an open heart surgery procedure. Through wires and catheters in the back of their heart. We kind of see the pouch on X-ray and camera behind the food pipe. Put the device there, once we are happy we release the plugin and the plug is there in place for the rest of their life,” explained Dr. Desai.
14 people have had the device installed successfully since Sanford Health began the surgeries back in January.