Simple keyhole heart op could cut stroke risk

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London, December 12 (ANI): Patients suffering from an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation can now undergo a simple operation to avoid heart stroke, instead of taking blood-thinning medication, say researchers.

The new keyhole surgery technique covers a "pocket" in the heart to prevent life-threatening blood clots from forming and entering the bloodstream.

An umbrella-like device known as the Watchman is implanted into the heart in the surgery, offered in a major London hospital.

"Atrial fibrillation is one of the main, preventable causes of stroke," Timesonline quoted Prapa Kanagarathnam, consultant cardiologist at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, as saying.

He added: "But many patients and doctors are unhappy with blood-thinning medication such as warfarin because of the risk of dangerous bleeding and the need for regular blood tests.

"With this new device, patients can stop taking warfarin approximately two months after the procedure."

Also, a study published in The Lancet, assessed 700 heart patients over five years.

Even in this study it was found that the 2.5cm-diameter Watchman, designed to cover the appendage in the heart, prevented strokes and was effective as replacement for warfarin.

Kanagarathnam said: "The new procedure is minimally invasive, involving a small cut in the groin."

Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: "This may be a valuable option for people who are unable to take warfarin long-term." (ANI)

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