Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion

Premier Cardiac and Vascular

Cardiologists located in Annandale, VA & Fredericksburg, VA

Left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO) is a procedure that reduces the risk of stroke in people with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib). At Premier Cardiac and Vascular in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Anita Banerjee, MD, FACC, and Ashok Talreja, MD, FACC, FHRS, specialize in AFib care and offer many treatment options, including LAAO. To find out more about this procedure, call the office or book an appointment online today.

What is left atrial appendage occlusion?

Left atrial appendage occlusion, or LAAO, is a procedure that treats AFib (a type of arrhythmia). People with AFib are at greater risk of having a stroke because of how the irregular heartbeat affects the flow of blood through the chambers, making it easier for blood clots to form.

Research indicates that people with non-valvular AFib are more likely to develop blood clots in the left atrial appendage (LAA), a little pouch in the upper left chamber of the heart.

LAAO closes or blocks the LAA to prevent the formation of blood clots.  

Am I a candidate for left atrial appendage occlusion?

The team at Premier Cardiac and Vascular determines if you’re a candidate for LAAO after a consultation. They may consider you a candidate for the procedure if you have non-valvular AFib, you’re at risk of developing blood clots in the LAA ,and you’re looking for an alternative to blood thinners.

What happens during left atrial appendage occlusion?

The team customizes your LAAO procedure and reviews all the details at your consultation. The team may surgically close the LAA or insert the Watchman™ device to plug the pouch. 

In most cases, the team uses minimally invasive techniques when performing LAAO using catheters that they insert in a blood vessel in your leg and advance toward your heart. The team then inserts tools through the catheter to close the LAA or place the Watchman device.

The procedure takes anywhere from 2-4 hours, and you may need to stay at the hospital for a day or two following surgery for monitoring.

What can I expect after left atrial appendage occlusion?

Recovery time following LAAO varies. If the team placed the Watchman device to block your LAA, you need to continue to take your blood thinners for 45 days, allowing enough time for your heart tissue to form around the device, closing any gaps. You then take aspirin for at least six months. 

If you’re searching for an alternative to blood thinners for your AFib, call Premier Cardiac and Vascular or book an appointment online today.