Left Atrial Appendage Closure Procedure

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A left atrial appendage closure procedure may be an alternative to taking blood thinners if you have atrial fibrillation (A-fib) that wasn’t caused by a heart valve issue. Stroke caused by blood clots breaking free of the left atrial appendage is a serious risk in these cases.

More than 90% of clots that break loose from the heart and go on to cause strokes start in the left atrial appendage. This small pouch of tissue in the wall of the left atrium doesn’t appear to serve any purpose.

If you can’t take blood-thinning medication such as warfarin because of the bleeding risk, you may qualify for a left atrial appendage closure procedure to implant a device to block off your left atrial appendage, which would prevent stroke-causing clots from forming there.

The  Watchman FLX left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) device is an implant that replaces long-term blood thinner use. The Watchman FLX is the next-generation Watchman device and is available in more sizes to fit your unique anatomy.

The Watchman FLX is available in sizes from 20 millimeters (about three-quarters of an inch or the diameter of a penny) to 35 millimeters (almost 1.4 inches) and made from very light and compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants.

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute has been performing Watchman implants since 2016 and has more experience with this treatment than any other hospital system in Louisville or Southern Indiana.

Benefits of a Left Atrial Appendage Closure Procedure

There are many benefits of having a left atrial appendage closure procedure with the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute team. They include:

  • Reduced risk of stroke from blot clots formed in the left atrial appendage
  • Eventual discontinuation of blood thinner, in most cases 45 days after the procedure
  • Minimally invasive, usually with no stitches needed
  • Short (usually overnight) hospital stay

Who Is a Candidate for the Left Atrial Appendage Closure Procedure?

You may be a candidate if you:

  • Have A-fib that is not related to heart valve disease (nonvalvular atrial fibrillation) and are at an increased risk of stroke
  • Have a history of major bleeding while taking blood thinners
  • Have a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for bleeding

How Is the Procedure Performed?

A specially trained cardiologist inserts flexible wires (catheters) into a blood vessel in the groin and guides the Watchman FLX device into the heart. The physician sets the implant over the opening of the left atrial appendage to seal it off. Over time, heart tissue grows over the implant. The procedure takes place in an electrophysiology lab under general anesthesia and usually lasts about an hour.

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute has state-of-the-art electrophysiology labs at Norton Hospital and Norton Audubon Hospital where this procedure is performed.

Heart and Vascular Care for the Whole Person

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for people of all ages who are seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.

Connecting Hearts Support Group

The group provides education and support to individuals who have had a heart attack, are living with a heart condition or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Heart Health Screenings

Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.

About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Every year, more than 137,000 people in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists for their heart and vascular care. That’s more than any other health care provider.

  • Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals in Louisville all have received Chest Pain Center accreditation from the American College of Cardiology (ACC). This is the seventh consecutive accreditation for all four hospitals, which ensures quality for the treatment of heart attack.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital all are recognized as having ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI accreditation.
  • Norton Healthcare has the most facilities across the city of Louisville with the ability treat a life-threatening heart attack.
  • You have access to more than 100 physicians and advanced practice providers with specialized training and experience in a comprehensive range of conditions and treatments.
  • Patients can make appointments at 28 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Telecardiology is offered at more than 30 sites in the region.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, a key location for Norton Heart & Vascular Institute services, has been recognized with a HeartCare Center National Distinction of Excellence year after year by the American College of Cardiology. This is the only hospital in Louisville to be recognized for this distinction.
  • U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranked Norton Healthcare adult-service Louisville hospitals high performing in heart attack and heart failure 2022-23.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital earned ventricular assist device (VAD) accreditation from DNV – Healthcare and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Communicate with your health care provider, renew prescriptions, get lab results and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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