BAY SHORE, NY -- Southside Hospital is the first on Long Island to treat patients with an innovative catheter-based procedure that uses sutures to tie off the left atrial appendage (LAA), which can be a major source of blood clots that may lead to stroke in patients with an abnormal heart rhythm.
Arthur Prevete of Port Jefferson Station received Long Island’s first ever Lariat heart procedure at Southside Hospital. Trevor Verga, MD, (left) and Erik Altman, MD, Southside’s director of electrophysiology, show Mr. Prevete the area where the procedure occurred.
On October 16, Erik Altman, MD, and Trevor Verga, MD, performed the first Long Island Lariat procedure on Arthur Prevete, 71, of Port Jefferson Station in Southside’s new hybrid operating room (OR).
An abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and can result in palpitations, chest discomfort and shortness of breath. It is also known to be associated with an increased risk of stroke with the LAA being the main source of those strokes.
“The LAA is a blind sack that extends from one of the top chambers of the heart,” said Dr. Verga. “It is sort of like an appendix. It serves no real purpose other than the ability to cause a lot of trouble.”
In AFib, the LAA stops contracting and the stationary blood inside can turn into a clot. If pieces of the clot break off, they can be pumped to the brain and cause a blockage of the blood vessels resulting in a stroke.
To prevent that from happening, Dr. Altman, director of Southside’s Electrophysiology program, explained that he and Dr. Verga used the Lariat to reduce the possibility of a stroke in Mr. Prevete. It has been used in only a handful of major medical centers around the country.
“The Lariat works as a lasso that goes around the LAA and stops the flow of blood to that area where blood clots form, reducing the chance of stroke from AFib,” Dr. Altman said. “People who have AFib and that are managed on blood thinners can have internal bleeding from an ulcer or may have had trauma with severe bleeding may not be candidates for continued use of the blood thinner and are at an increased risk for a stroke. This procedure significantly reduces the possibility of that type of stroke from occurring in the area of the heart that we are able to tie off from the outside of the heart.”
Suffering from AFib, Mr. Prevete was at an increased risk of stroke and was on a blood thinning medication that had a number of side effects. Following his Lariat procedure, Mr. Prevete said he felt “great.”
“Now, my doctors have eliminated the need for me to be on that medicine and the possibility of a stroke occurring from this area of my heart. And I’m going home one-day later.
It’s a great day.”
Dr. Altman agrees. “I see this procedure as having a huge impact on the way we manage patients and the way we take care of them, reducing risk of future strokes in these patients that
have these atrial arrhythmias.”
While the Lariat procedure for Mr. Prevete was the first on Long Island, more are soon to follow. “Long Island has a population of 3.5 million and two percent of that population will have AFib,’ said Dr. Verga. “That number is significant, and with our ability to eliminate the primary area where the problem occurs, this procedure will be a life-saving alternative for many patients.”
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