LANCASTER – Antelope Valley Hospital on Friday marked American Heart Month by announcing two new heart procedures now offered to AVH patients — Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) and Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Implant (LAAO, or also known as the Watchman device).
“We are pleased to have just completed four successful LAAO procedures with the Watchman device this month,” said, Sameh F. Gadallah, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist at Antelope Valley Hospital. “AVH, fortunately, now has the technology to lower the risk of stroke without performing open heart surgery.”
TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure to replace diseased aortic valves without performing open heart surgery. The aortic valve is a vital heart structure that tends to degenerate and malfunction as patients age. The traditional way to replace the aortic valve is through performing open heart surgery, a major procedure where recovery is typically long and painful.
TAVR, instead, delivers a new tissue aortic valve, without the need to open the chest or stopping the heart. The procedure has been around for nearly 10 years and is continuously refined. Multiple clinical trials have proven the safety and efficacy of TAVR compared to open heart surgery and valve replacement. TAVR is now considered the standard of care as it has proven equivalence and/or superior to surgical valve replacement. Patients who undergo TAVR are typically discharged after an overnight stay in the hospital. This procedure is available for people with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis at low, intermediate or high risk for standard valve replacement surgery.
The Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Implant (LAAO) procedure is an effective way to reduce stroke risk in patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac condition that the effects tens of millions in the United States. Certain patients with atrial fibrillation are prone to strokes and neurological damage.
One way to minimize the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation is to use anti-coagulants. Although these medications are effective at reducing the incidence of strokes, they have their own serious side effects. They all can cause serious and at times life-threatening bleeding. Many patients cannot, therefore, take anticoagulants and are left with unchecked stroke risk. The blood clots that lead to strokes in atrial fibrillation patients develop in a particular portion of the heart, known as, the left atrial appendage. This is a recess in the left upper heart chamber that, if closed, dramatically lowers the risk of strokes. The device used is known as LAAO or the Watchman device. The device is inserted through a small incision in the right groin and is a permanent implant. Once in place, there is no need for long-term anticoagulation with the associated lifelong risk of bleeding.
“As we’re advancing the healthcare options for the Antelope Valley and its surrounding communities, we’re proud to make this announcement, as we know it will save lives and improve the quality of life for many, especially since AVH is the only hospital offering this type of care locally,” said Ed Mirzabegian, CEO of Antelope Valley Hospital. “We’re also proud and honored to have our medical team, specially trained to conduct these procedures; without them we wouldn’t have a program.”
[Information via news release from Antelope Valley Hospital.]