Can closing the left auricle prevent a stroke without open-heart surgery?

The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small pouch on the left side of the heart’s atrium. In people who have atrial fibrillation (a very rapid irregular heartbeat), the LAA is believed to be the most common place for blood clots to form. 

From the LAA, clots can move into the circulation, block blood flow to the brain and cause stroke. For atrial fibrillation patients who are not suitable candidates for anti-clotting drugs, closing off the LAA may help prevent blood clots from forming - and stroke from occurring. Some patients have had the LAA closed during surgery to repair a heart valve.

Now, researchers are developing a closure device that can be delivered and used to close the LAA via a thin tube called a catheter. If the research is successful, atrial fibrillation patients who have their LAA closed may be able to cut back on anticoagulant medications if their doctors approve.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.