Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion

Left atrial appendage (LAA) occlusion is a method of preventing strokes for selected patients who are at a high risk for having a stroke but who cannot take blood thinning medications. These patients have a disorganized and irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, a disturbance in the electrical system that keeps the heartbeat regular. Atrial fibrillation usually is treated with medication or electrical ablation of the part of the heart that is causing an abnormal heart rhythm. Blood clots in the left atrial appendage are the source of most strokes from atrial fibrillation. The left atrium is the heart’s upper left chamber. The LAA is a small pouch of tissue remaining from a baby’s development in the womb. When people have atrial fibrillation, blood tends to pool in the LAA, creating favorable conditions for the blood to clot. Some 15% to 20% of people with atrial fibrillation have a stroke, with most of them due to clots that formed in the LAA. Occlusion to seal off the appendage done either during heart surgery or with a device inserted through a catheter, usually in the upper leg. The device is guided to the left atrium, where it permanently plugs the LAA. 

UAB Cardiovascular Institute delivers optimal patient care for heart rhythm disorders. You will be cared for by regional and world leaders in the treatment of heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, atrioventricular re-entrant tachycardia, and other heart rhythm abnormalities.

Our physicians evaluate the newest treatments and technologies and author professional publications that advance the field of arrhythmia treatment. Their extensive experience and academic backgrounds ensure that they are familiar with all types of heart rhythm disorders. Our academic medical center performs more than 600 heart rhythm-related procedures each year, and our success in treating all types of complex arrhythmias is well-documented. Our electrophysiologists have access to the UAB Cardiovascular Institute, one of the largest of its kind in the Southeast. It features the most advanced technology available, including four procedural suites dedicated to electrophysiology (the electrical signals in the heart). At UAB Medicine you are part of a program that carries out pioneering work in atrial fibrillation and advanced pacemaker and cardioverter defibrillator design.


Tom McElderry, M.D. | Heart Arrhythmia
Tom McElderry, MD | Heart Arrhythmia
Understand the risk factors and symptoms of heart arrhythmias, and when it is important for you to see a doctor.

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