Published Oct. 3, 2013
A clinical trial in Charleston is testing a device that aims to prevent blood clots from escaping the heart and causing a stroke.
“Strokes from atrial fibrillation are one of the most devastating events a person can experience,” Dr. Brett Baker of Carolina Arrhythmia Consultants said in a news release. “And this device is the most exciting development in stroke prevention to come along in the past 25 years.”
Baker and Dr. Matthew O’Steen of Coastal Cardiology, both affiliates of Roper St. Francis, are taking part in the study. They were the first in the state to use the Amplatzer cardiac plug during a heart procedure in August.
The purpose of the clinical trial is to test the safety and effectiveness of the device compared with traditional medical treatment in which patients take blood-thinning medication long term.
O’Steen called the plug a possible “blockbuster” for stroke prevention.
The cardiac plug prevents blood clots from migrating out of an area of the heart and potentially causing a stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, which is defined as a quivering or irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure.
According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 2.7 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, and the likelihood of developing it increases with age.
Delivered via a catheter that is inserted in a patient’s leg, the device is designed to completely seal off an area of the heart at its opening to minimize blood clot formation and to keep them from migrating into the bloodstream, according to a news release.
PMG Research of Charleston is conducting the trial and St. Jude Medical sponsors it. St. Jude Medical also developed the device. Currently, Roper St. Francis is the only hospital participating in the study in South Carolina.