WAUSAU, Wis. – German Larrain, MD, an interventional cardiologist with the Aspirus Heart & Vascular nationally recognized heart care program, on February 11, 2021 became the first in the region to implant a next-generation device on a patient suffering from atrial fibrillation (A Fib).
The device, called WATCHMAN FLX™ Left Appendage Closure (LAAC), is a permanent implant that does not have to be replaced and cannot be seen on the outside of the body. Dr. Larrain implanted the device inside the heart using only a small incision in the groin. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. This newer generation is an advancement that enables the device to fit a greater number of patients, giving more patients a safe, effective alternative to blood thinners should they need one.
“Aspirus believes in bringing advanced heart care technology to the communities we serve,” Dr. Larrain said. “This is another demonstration of our commitment to our communities.”
A Fib is a health condition where the upper chamber of the heart beats too fast and with an irregular rhythm. It affects up to 6 million Americans. One of the most common complications of A Fib is the risk of a stroke, which can be fatal or disabling. Patients with A Fib are treated with blood thinning medication which may require frequent monitoring and adjusting.
“Some patients have difficulty tolerating blood thinners and the WATCHMAN FLX procedure can be life changing for them,” Dr. Larrain said. “This procedure serves as a safe and effective treatment to reduce the risk of stroke for patients suffering from A Fib not caused by a heart valve problem. I am proud to have performed the first implant of this new technology in our region.”