By Bevin Holzschuh

Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda

Thomas Johnson of North Port was Bayfront Health Port Charlotte’s 50th patient to be implanted with a left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) device. This makes Bayfront Health Port Charlotte the fastest growing program to offer this device as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with atrial fibrillation (AFib) not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib) in Charlotte County.

“I began experiencing signs of AFib about 15 years ago,” said Johnson. “Since then, I’ve been caring for it with blood thinners. But about six months ago, I began feeling the symptoms more frequently. My heart would flutter and my legs would become weak. Sometimes it would last minutes but one time it lasted more than 17 hours.”

An estimated 5 million Americans are 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. This device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the blood stream 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 blood thinners.

“This implant is an innovative alternative for patients with non-valvular AFib at risk for a stroke, especially those with a compelling reason not to be on blood thinners,” said electrophysiologist Sidney Peykar, M.D., F.A.C.C., independent member of the medical staff at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte. Dr. Peykar not only performed this 50th case but also the first case of this kind at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte. His average procedure time is 25 minutes. “I’m proud to have the opportunity to implant this device at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte as it offers patients potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment.”

More than 80,000 patients worldwide have been implanted with this device and it is performed in a one-time procedure.

“The device is permanent and shouldn’t have to be replaced,” said Mr. Johnson. “You can’t see it; eventually the heart muscle will grow over it. I saw Dr. Peykar in his office on Thursday and the procedure was done the following Tuesday at Bayfront Health. I’m told the procedure took less than an hour. I did stay overnight but that was fine. I had a nice private room and the staff is all really great. I’ll be back in about 45 days to check the placement. At that time I look forward to the opportunity to no longer take blood thinners.”

“We are proud to offer this device to our AFib patients, patients just like Tom,” said Tim Cerullo, Market CEO for Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. “This is one of many recent medical advances and treatments that we have brought to the local community and we will continue to do so.”

To learn more and see a video clip of Peykar speaking about this procedure, like Bayfront’s Facebook page by visiting www.Facebook.com/BayfrontHealth Port CharlotteandPuntaGorda.

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