Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Atrial Fibrillation Revisited

On Thursday, February 7, Dr. Daniel van Buren spoke to a To Your Health audience on Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and the most recent developments in treatment. 

Individuals with AF have a problem with the heart's electrical system. Very simply, disorganized electrical activity in the upper chambers causes the lower chambers to beat erratically. Blood is not pumped properly, which results in the formation of clots, hence the greatly increased risk of stroke.

Because of the increased risk of stroke, medication that inhibits clot formation is usually prescribed. Traditionally, that drug has been Warfarin, but Warfarin requires a great deal of tweaking and monitoring, which has led to under treatment. Newer drugs are now available that have proven to be at least as effective as Warfarin, at least as safe, and do not require constant monitoring, and the price is coming down. The downside with any blood thinner is the risk of bleeding, but in the case of preventing stroke the benefits outweigh the risks. 

Peter Musso thanks Dr. van Buren for his presentation.
A really encouraging new development is the Watchman Device. Most clots form in the left atrial appendage. The Watchman Device is inserted over the opening to the appendage to prevent blood from entering and clots from forming. Dr. van Buren says it’s almost too good to be true; except for the need for and the cost of a procedure, so far there are no negatives.

The next To Your Health presentation, “It’s a Pasta Party!”, will be held on Thursday, March 7 from 4:30 – 6:00 at the West Parish Congregational Church. It is free and open to the public.