Slidell Memorial Hospital Heart Center Implants Stroke-Prevention Device

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The clinical team at the Slidell Memorial Hospital Heart Center achieved a groundbreaking milestone by successfully implanting a device in a patient’s heart to reduce stroke risk from atrial fibrillation (AFib). This achievement marks the first implantation of the WATCHMAN FLXTM Pro Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device in Slidell, Louisiana.

The procedure, performed on February 16 in the hospital’s hybrid operating room, targeted a 68-year-old patient in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. This implantation represents the first successful use of the latest model of the WATCHMAN device, a cutting-edge technology in LAAC in the state.

Atrial fibrillation, characterized by an irregular heartbeat, affects an estimated 7 million Americans and increases the risk of stroke by five times compared to individuals with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN FLXTM Pro device is designed to reduce this risk and offer an alternative to lifelong blood thinner use for AFib patients. By closing off the left atrial appendage, the device prevents harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream, potentially causing a stroke.

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Dr. Rami Kafa, an Interventional Cardiologist at Ochsner Health who led the procedure, expressed enthusiasm for the impact this technology could have on patients. “This is an exciting moment to bring this procedure to our patients in Slidell, and we’re hopeful that we can impact the lives of many more to come with this technology,” said Dr. Kafa. “Thanks to the collaboration of our teams at the SMH Heart Center and Ochsner, we are advancing cardiology services in our region.”

The procedure, completed in just 35 minutes under general anesthesia, was a collaborative effort involving Dr. Kafa, Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Vasanth Bethala, Anesthesiologist Dr. Matthew Miller, Cardiologist Dr. Samy Abdelghani, Richard Allen, CRNA, and the SMH Heart Center clinical team. The patient was discharged home safely on the same afternoon.

“This procedure is the culmination of nine months of work to meet the regulatory requirements needed to offer this here in Slidell,” said Scott Dassau, director of Critical Care and Cardiology at Slidell Memorial Hospital. “I’m proud of our team for meeting this milestone in cardiac care and, ultimately, making a difference in the lives of our patients.”