Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center Introduces New Treatment to Reduce Stroke Risk

Lariat procedure for atrial fibrillationCardiologists at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center are the first in Hampton Roads to perform a new non-surgical therapy aimed at reducing the risk for stroke in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation. On June 17, Dr. Ryan Seutter and Dr. Jun Chung at the Bon Secours Heart & Vascular Institute performed the region’s first LARIAT® Suture Delivery Device procedure on a 71 year-old female with a long history of atrial fibrillation, who could not tolerate blood-thinning medications.

Atrial fibrillation, the most common form of abnormal heart rhythm, is a condition that results in the heart beating too fast or too slow. In patients with atrial fibrillation, the heart’s left atrial appendage (LAA) stops contracting; the blood inside the appendage can become stationary, causing it to clot. When pieces of the clot break off, the clot travels to the brain, causing a stroke. Patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have stroke, and nearly all of these strokes occur from blood clots formed in the left atrial appendage.

“Preventing stroke has been a big challenge in treating patients with atrial fibrillation, and until now, there have been few options except anticoagulation medicines,” said Dr. Seutter. “Not all patients can tolerate the medicines, as was the case of our first patient who experienced excessive bleeding from Coumadin. The LARIAT has significantly reduced this patient’s risk of stroke. In just two days after the procedure, she was walking and well enough to be discharged from the hospital.”

The new FDA-approved LARIAT® Suture Delivery Device consists of a wire system and a pre-formed suture loop, similar to a lasso, used to tie off the left atrial appendage (LAA). Cardiologists perform the procedure using two catheters; the first carrying the LARIAT is inserted under the patient’s rib cage and the other, which guides it into place, is sent to the LAA. Once in place, the LARIAT places and tightens a loop stitch around the base of the LAA, permanently sealing it off from the rest of the heart and blocking stroke-causing blood clots from traveling to the brain.

Approximately three million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation. Symptoms include palpitations — sensations of a racing, irregular heartbeat — shortness of breath, chest pain or lightheadedness.

“The LARIAT is proving to be an excellent alternative to patients who are facing a lifetime of blood thinning medications, who are required to be monitored by their doctor frequently, or who might be facing more invasive open-heart surgery,” said Dr. Chung. “We are pleased to offer this new non-surgical procedure that will potentially save thousands of lives in Hampton Roads.”

The permanent, one-time LARIAT procedure has a success rate of about 95 percent.

Dedicated to providing world-class cardiac care in Hampton Roads, Bon Secours Heart & Vascular Institute at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center provides state-of-the-art technologies to diagnose and treat heart disease. The Bon Secours Heart Institute has introduced breakthrough techniques to patients in Hampton Roads, including the “off pump” heart surgeries, and a new, innovative treatment for irregular heartbeat, including the Lariat procedure. Offering the only open heart program in western Hampton Roads, Maryview Medical Center includes a new Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, an Advanced Cardiac Care Unit, telemetry technology, cardiac and vascular diagnostic services, two cardiac catheterization labs and an electrophysiology lab.

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