Heart Devices for Afib

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If you have afib, you're more susceptible to blood clots and 5 times more likely to have a stroke than people without it.

Medications to address your stroke risk with afib don't always work. At UVA Health, we have alternative solutions for afib patients: implantable, surgical devices. 

Clinical studies show that 90% of blood clots form in the left atrial appendage (LAA), the left part of the heart. All of the devices we offer obstruct the LAA. This procedure has been proven to reduce blood clots and lower stroke risk.


In 2014, UVA became the first medical center in Central Virginia to offer the Lariat procedure. 

During this procedure, your doctor places a catheter in the left atrium and another in the pericardial sack, accessed via a puncture under the sternum. We then thread magnetic guide wires into position to facilitate the placement of a braided polyester suture loop. Once placed over the LAA, we close the loop and remove the wires.

The procedure lasts about two hours and requires one overnight stay. You receive care from a team of specialists, including:

  • Anesthesiologists
  • Echocardiologists
  • Electrophysiologists
  • Surgeons


The AtriClip is gentler than some devices, with a low risk of tearing or future bleeding. A surgeon can implant this device with open surgery or with a minimally invasive procedure. 

Typically, recovery lasts no longer than two days.  


Recently FDA approved, the Watchman differs from the Lariat and AtriClip in that it is not an external device; instead, we insert it inside the heart. A catheter-based procedure involves accessing the left atrium through the femoral vein.

The procedure lasts approximately two hours and requires an overnight stay. You will need to take blood thinners for up to 45 days afterwards. 

The Benefits of Watchman

This minimally invasive technique limits the risk for infection, decreases blood loss, and shortens recovery time. 

UVA Health participates in the PREVAIL continued-access protocol study, a registry that examines the safety of the implant procedure for the Watchman device.

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