Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) is the most common irregular heart rhythm. Instead of the SA node (sinus node) directing the electrical rhythm, many different impulses rapidly fire at once, causing a very fast, abnormal beat starting in the atria. Because the electrical impulses are so fast and chaotic, the atria cannot contract and/or squeeze blood effectively into the ventricle, causing it to stagnate and form clots.
The most common place for blood clots to form in the heart is in the appendage of the left atrium. The atrial appendage is a piece of redundant tissue that is prone to clots forming. In patients that are intolerant to traditional blood-thinning drugs such as Warfarin or the newer drugs such as Xarelto/ Pradaxa/Xarelto/Eliquis left atrial appendage closure may be an option.
The left atrial appendage closure procedure involves placing wires and catheters through the femoral vein, making a small hole in the atrial septum (membrane between the two top chambers of the heart) and blocking off/plugging the appendage with a stent-like device. Following the procedure, the only anti-coagulation required is some low dose aspirin and possibly a stronger blood thinner for a short duration.
Dr Sharpe is one of a small group of interventional cardiologists qualified to perform this procedure in Australia, a recognised Key Opinion Leader (KOL) and proctor nationally and internationally.
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