Rapides Regional implants Central Louisiana’s first device to treat Afib, reducing use of blood thinners

(RRMC) – June 10, 2021 – Rapides Regional Medical Center has become the first healthcare facility in Central Louisiana to treat atrial fibrillation with an implantable device. The WATCHMAN, a left atrial appendage closure device, is an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) not caused by a heart valve problem.

Cardiologist Kanna Posina, M.D., implanted the first WATCHMAN into Philip Cranston, 66, of Rhinehart, earlier this month,  in the hospital’s new hybrid operating room.

Up to six million Americans are estimated to be affected by AFib, an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. People with AFib have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms.

In people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, more than 90 percent of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the left atrial appendage. By closing off the left atrial appendage, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking blood thinners.