North Santa Rosa

Baptist Heart Rhythm Center Team is the First in the Area to Offer New Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

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PENSACOLA, FLA. – Approximately 6 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), a heart arrhythmia condition characterized by rapid and irregular heartbeat and a high risk of heart failure and stroke. Striving to reduce these risks and ensure a healthier community, Baptist Hospital’s cardiovascular team now offers a groundbreaking new treatment option for patients suffering with atrial fibrillation.

On May 23, cardiovascular experts at Baptist Hospital were the first in northwest Florida and south Alabama to perform a catheter-based procedure using sutures to tie off a left atrial appendage (LAA), which is often the source of blood clots leading to stroke in patients with AFib.

The procedure, known as minimally invasive LAA occlusion, is performed using the newly FDA-approved LARIAT® Suture Delivery Device, manufactured by SentreHeart Inc.

“The act of tying off the LAA was previously only possible through open heart surgery. With the new LARIAT technology, we can now perform LAA occlusion as a minimally invasive inpatient procedure in the cardiac electrophysiology lab at Baptist Hospital,” said Sumit Verma, M.D., F.A.C.C., an experienced cardiac electrophysiologist with Cardiology Consultants and the Baptist Heart Rhythm Center, who performed the first LARIAT procedure. “The procedure is a major advancement in our ability to manage stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation.”

The use of “blood thinners” is a common treatment method to reduce the risk of stroke in AFib, but sometimes patients cannot tolerate the medication or carry too much bleeding risk given their condition, age or medical history. The first patient treated at Baptist with this new procedure suffered from long-standing AFib and had multiple episodes of gastrointestinal bleeding in the past when treated with blood thinners for stroke prevention.

“This procedure has the potential to save many lives by helping reduce the main source of atrial fibrillation-related stroke while avoiding potential side effects associated with blood-thinning medications,” said Dr. Verma.

With the patient under general anesthesia, Dr. Verma assisted by Dr. Ibrahim Fahdi , Dr. Thanh Wagner, cardiologists and echocardiographers, and Dr. William Bailey, cardiothoracic surgeon, guided two catheters into the patient’s heart to seal the LAA with a pre-tied suture loop. The inpatient procedure took less than one hour to complete, required an over-night hospital stay, and left only two small puncture marks on the patient’s skin. Once the procedure was completed the patient was safely able to discontinue the use of blood thinners.

To make an appointment for heart or vascular care, call the Cardiology Consultants office at 850.484.6500 or visit to learn more about the many innovative cardiovascular procedures offered.

Posted by on May 29 2013. Filed under Events, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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