Northwest Health Introduces New Heart Device that May Reduce the Risk of Stroke

Northwest Health Introduces New Heart Device that May Reduce the Risk of Stroke

Northwest Health – Porter recently became one of the first hospitals in Northern Indiana to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib) an alternative to long-term blood thinners with the next generation left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) device. The one-time procedure may reduce the risk of stroke in people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem. 

The heart team at Northwest Health – Porter successfully performed its first LAAC implant with the new technology in February of this year. Since then, 24 patients have received the new FDA-approved device, which has been implanted in more than 100,000 patients worldwide. The newest version of the device has an updated design to help treat more patients safely and effectively. It doesn’t have to be replaced and cannot be seen outside the body. 

Heart specialists who perform the procedure at Northwest Health include interventional cardiologists: Sandeep Sehgal, M.D. and Anshuman Das, M.D., as well as cardiac electrophysiologists Raghuram Dasari, M.D. and Mark Dixon, D.O. Northwest Health cardiologists first performed the left atrial appendage closure procedure using an earlier version of the technology in 2016.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, or too slowly, with an irregular rhythm. An estimated six million Americans are affected by atrial fibrillation—an irregular heartbeat that feels like quivering or “thumping” in the chest. Additional common symptoms of AFib include general fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, sweating, and chest pain. 

The new device used at Northwest Health – Porter closes off the area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner, such as warfarin. 

“Our success with the Left Atrial Appendage closure procedure has been life changing for our patients. The new device we have started using at Northwest Health – Porter is an effective stroke risk reduction alternative for many AFib patients, especially those with a reason not to be on blood thinners,” said Ashley Dickinson, CEO for Northwest Health. “Providing this procedure offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment and will allow us to treat a broader range of patients going forward.” 

The implant procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. The procedure takes about one hour, and patients typically stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day. It is covered for eligible Medicare patients who meet certain criteria as well as an increasing number of commercial insurers. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a Northwest Medical Group cardiologist who performs this procedure call 219-983-6300 or visit