NYMC Faculty Publications


Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion in the Management of Stroke in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation

Journal Title

Cardiology in Review

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Document Type

Review Article

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with a substantially higher risk of thromboembolism, particularly stroke events, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Oral anticoagulation (OAC), while effective in reducing embolic events in AF patients, is associated with an increased bleeding risk. Thus, not all patients with AF are candidates for OAC and some are only candidates for OAC in the short term. Of the available nonpharmacologic strategies for the management of AF, left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO) has emerged as a potential approach for reducing the risk of systemic thromboembolism in AF patients eligible for OAC. LAAO can be achieved either surgically or percutaneously using an epicardial, endocardial, or a combined approach. Although available data are limited, currently available LAAO devices, and those being developed, have shown promise in reducing bleeding risk in AF patients because of the reduced overall need for anticoagulation, while maintaining efficacy in preventing thromboembolism. The optimal device will reduce both embolic and hemorrhagic strokes, and other bleeds, with a high implant success rate and a low complication rate. Until that time, anticoagulation remains the gold standard that these devices strive to surpass, and thus LAAO devices are currently indicated in patients with relative contraindication to OAC therapy.

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