Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute Surgeon First in State to Implant Heart Device

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AtriClip reduces stroke risk for a-fib patients.

Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute cardiovascular surgeon John Johnkoski, M.D., implanted a heart device, the AtriClip, that greatly reduces the risk for stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (a-fib).

Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute cardiovascular surgeon John Johnkoski, M.D., implanted a heart device, the AtriClip, that greatly reduces the risk for stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (a-fib).

Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute cardiovascular surgeon John Johnkoski, M.D., on Friday, became the first physician in Wisconsin and one of only five in the nation to implant a heart device that greatly reduces the risk for stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (a-fib).

A common heart condition that affects an estimated 2.5 million Americans, a-fib is an irregular heartbeat that is caused by a faulty electrical impulse. The abnormal heartbeat associated with a-fib can cause blood to pool in the left atrial appendage, a thumb-sized pouch on top of the heart where the majority of blood clots are thought to form.

The device implanted by Dr. Johnkoski, called the AtriClip Gillinov-Cosgrove Left Atrial Appendage Exclusion device, clamps off blood flow to the appendage and prevents blood from pooling. By cutting off the blood flow, the chances of a clot forming in this high-risk area and causing a stroke are greatly reduced.

“Unless someone with a-fib undergoes a surgical procedure, the only way to reduce their risk of stroke is to take a blood-thinning medication like Coumadin,” Dr. Johnkoski said. “Coumadin can be difficult for some people to handle and it doesn’t mix well with an active lifestyle, but the AtriClip implant can allow a person to get off it, which is a huge benefit.”

The AtriClip blocks blood flow to the appendage more effectively than other techniques and is designed to be implanted from the outside of the heart, avoiding contact with circulating blood.

“The AtriClip is more effective than a stapling method in completely closing off the area of the heart where blood can pool,” Dr. Johnkoski said. “Blocking off blood flow with this device prevents the formation of pockets or pouches where clots can develop and lowers the incidence of stroke in patients with a-fib.”

In addition to implanting the AtriClip device, Dr. Johnkoski also performs an advanced surgical procedure for a-fib called thoracoscopic ablation, or mini-maze. This procedure is a minimally-invasive technique that is performed through a few small incisions on a patient’s side.

Dr. Johnkoski has performed more than 160 surgical ablations and is a recognized leader in the field, as the Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute is one of fewer than 50 centers in the country to offer the procedure.

For more information about a-fib and treatments for the condition, visit http://www.treatafib.org.

Contact: Greg Aune, 715.847.0479

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Greg Aune
Aspirus
715-847-0479
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