Left atrial appendage occlusion possibly prevents strokes in heart patients

Stroke is an emergency, life-threatening condition that occurs when there is an interrupted or reduced supply of blood to the brain. This prevents the brain from receiving enough oxygen and nutrients, causing the death of brain cells. An important and common risk factor for stroke is atrial fibrillation (AF) and accounts for one-sixth of all strokes.

A pilot study led by McMaster University focused on evaluating the efficacy and safety of removing a tissue in the heart chamber – left atrial appendage (LAA) occlusion during coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Patients who are at risk of stroke were randomly divided to LAA occlusion or control groups.

It was found that LAA occlusion did not prolong CABG time and increase bleeding or postoperative AF, indicating that LAA is safe. In addition, participants in the LAA occlusion group had a lower risk of stroke suggesting that this method could be considered as adjunctive therapy to reduce the chances of stroke without additional risk to patients.

Why it matters: Around 90% of blood clots in the left atrium are found in the LAA. This study’s findings suggest that LAA occlusion is safe to be performed during CABG and that it could potentially reduce the chances of stroke.

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine