Researchers say a simple surgery that removes a small appendage on the heart can reduce the risk of stroke for people with heart arrhythmia.
Experts say the appendage can trap blood in the heart chamber and increase the risk of clots.
They say the risk is known and surgeons already routinely close off the appendage during heart surgery.
Simply removing a small appendage on the heart can reduce the risk of stroke for people with heart arrhythmia, according to a new study by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
The left atrial appendage is an unused, finger-like tissue that can trap blood in the heart chamber and increase the risk of clots.
Removing it can cut the risk of stroke by more than a third in people whose hearts either beat too fast, too slowly, or irregularly, the researchers reported.
The reduced risk created by removal just adds to the benefits conferred by blood thinner medications that doctors usually prescribe to people with arrhythmia.
If you have atrial fibrillation and are undergoing heart surgery, the surgeon should be removing your left atrial appendage because it is a setup for forming clots,” said Dr. Richard Whitlock, the study’s author and a professor of surgery at the Canadian university, in a statement. “Our trial has shown this to be both safe and effective for stroke prevention.”
This is going to have a positive impact on tens of thousands of patients globally,” he added. he study followed 4,811 people taking blood thinners for atrial fibrillation in 27 countries.
Participants who underwent cardiopulmonary bypass surgery were randomly chosen for the additional procedure of removing the left atrial appendage.
esearchers compared outcomes with those who only took blood thinners over a median of 4 years. The average age of the patients was 71.
he study was recently presented at the American College of Cardiology conference and published today by the New England Journal of Medicine.
wo California cardiologists told Healthline that surgeons have already been closing the left atrial appendage to decrease the odds of heart patients having a stroke. Dr. Nikhil Warrier, the medical director of electrophysiology at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, said the procedure “is an attractive option for closure or litigation in patients who are at high risk for stroke and not ideal candidates for long-term blood thinners.”