Published on January 15, 2014

Cutting Edge AFib Treatment Comes To The First Coast

By and

The most common type of abnormal heart rhythm, which may make those affected five times more likely to have a stroke, may have met it’s nemesis.

Dr. Saumil Oza, a cardiac electrophysiologist at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside, spoke with Melissa Ross about a new Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) treatment option known as the LARIAT procedure.

Listen to the interview

A person suffering from AFib may experience a rapid and disorganized heartbeat that occurs in the atria, or the upper chambers of the heart.

Oza said that during an AFib episode, blood isn’t able to flow appropriately and clots can form in the heart.

Oza described the LARIAT treatment as a minimally invasive procedure in which the left atrium, an area where clots can form, is “lassoed” or cinched off with a suture.

“This procedure specifically targets those patients that are at high risk for strokes, they have a lot of other risk factors such as previous strokes such as other heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure,“ said Oza.

He also said that those patients for one reason or another aren’t able to take  anticoagulants or blood thinners which leaves this procedure to potentially eliminate the clot risk.

St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside will soon become the first hospital in the region to offer the procedure, with the first LARIAT patient scheduled for February.

Oza described the the procedure as being on the cutting edge and noted that not many providers in this country are using it.

The LARIAT method offers a much shorter recovery time than open-heart procedures in which the left atrium is physically cut-off; as few as two days.

As for prevention, Oza said that many of the AFib risk factors are the same as the risk factors of heart disease.

Decreasing salt intake, weight loss, and even treatment for sleep apnea, could potentially prevent AFib.