Northside Hospital is the "first" hospital on the west coast of Florida and the fourth hospital in the state to perform the Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion procedure for patients with non-valvular Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) who are currently on warfarin (Coumadin).

People with AFib have a five times greater risk of suffering a stroke or systemic embolism. The most common treatment to reduce this stroke risk in patients with AFib is with warfarin (a blood thinner). The LAAO procedure closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep blood clots from leaving the left atrial appendage, entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.

  • After 45 days, most patients were able to stop taking warfarin
  • After one year, over 99% of patients who had this device implanted were able to stop taking warfarin
  • Patients treated with the LAAO therapy had a 71% relative reduction in major bleeding after six months compared to patients treated with warfarin

What is an arrhythmia? How does electricity work in the heart

The body naturally produces electricity that travels over the heart muscle and stimulates the heart to contract or beat. The electrical signal that tells the heart to beat comes from a small area of the right atrium of the heart. This area is located in the upper right chamber of the heart and is called the sinoatrial node, or SA node. When a signal is given by the SA node, a small electrical impulse runs through the heart and stimulates the heart muscle to contract. The contraction of the heart muscle produces a heartbeat and forces blood out of the heart to the rest of your body. Certain conditions can cause the electrical system to make the heart beat too slowly, too fast, or in an uncoordinated manner. These irregular patterns are called arrhythmias and they can occur in any of the four chambers of the heart.

  • Heartbeats that are too slow (bradycardia)
  • Heartbeats that are too fast (tachycardia)
  • Extra beats
  • Skipped beats
  • Beats coming from abnormal areas of the heart
  • Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

An electrophysiology study will help the physician determine the best treatment for you by showing where the arrhythmias are occurring.

What are the symptoms?

Some arrhythmias may occur without any symptoms. Others, such as AFib, may cause noticeable symptoms, such as:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness, sensation of light-headedness
  • Sensation of your heart fluttering (palpitations)
  • Sensation of a missed or extra heart beat
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain