Dhanunjaya "DJ" Lakkireddy, M.D., with patient, Steve Smith, from Basehor, Kansas. Smith is the first patient in Kansas to receive a procedure using next-generation permanent heart implants.

HCA Midwest Health, the region’s leading healthcare provider, today announced it is first in the region to perform procedures using next-generation permanent heart implants. Dhanunjaya “DJ” Lakkireddy, M.D., performed a procedure of the catheter-based, or non-surgically delivered device at Overland Park Regional Medical Center on August 5, 2020. Rakesh Gopinathannair, M.D., performed the identical procedure at Research Medical Center on August 6, 2020.

What the device does to help patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation

The Watchman FLX is the next-generation Watchman, which offers an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with atrial fibrillation (AF) not caused by a heart valve problem). Up to 6 million Americans are estimated to be affected by AF, which is an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart and is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms. AF-related strokes are not only the most common complication of AF, they are also more frequently fatal and disabling. The most common treatment to reduce stroke stroke-risk in patients is with blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin. While effective at reducing the risk of stroke, blood thinners increase the risk of serious bleeding over time and come with certain requirements and restrictions. 

How the device works and produces better long-term outcomes for heart patients

The implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage, or 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 their blood thinner. The next-generation technology has a new design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.

“The device serves as a safe and effective stroke risk reduction alternative for patients with non-valvular AF, especially those with a compelling reason not to be on blood thinners,” Dr. Lakkireddy says. “It is an honor to be the first in the Kansas City Region to perform the implant of this device on two patients. HCA Midwest Health is an innovator in heart care and this technology not only offers patients a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment, it provides reduced healing time and allow us to treat a broader range of patients going forward.”

“Overland Park Regional Medical Center, known for its excellence in heart and stroke care, is proud to be a leader in using this device that gives heart patients with these conditions new options and hope,” says Overland Park Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Matt Sogard. “HCA Midwest Health gives patients and their families access to more coordinated and robust world-class cardiac services across the continuum of care.”

“As a leader in compassionate and world-class cardiovascular and stroke care, Research Medical Center is pleased to be one of the first in the Kansas City region to offer our patients this implant,” says Research Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Ashley McClellan. “Heart disease is a leading cause of death in our nation and further enhancing our services to ensure that we offer our patients unsurpassed, high-quality cardiovascular services is critical to our mission of making communities healthier and stronger.”

“Providing patients access to the right care at the right time and right place is integral to cardiovascular healthcare,” Dr. Lakkireddy says. “HCA Midwest Health offers patients and their families excellent care and unprecedented access through its emergency departments, cardiology practices, urgent care system and primary care physicians. The addition of this revolutionary device is the kind of healthcare patients want and need, so it’s an honor and privilege to be part of this groundbreaking procedure in Kansas City.”

Overland Park Regional Medical Center overview

Mr. Smith is a 70-year-old male with a history of atrial fibrillation. Medication for the management of his AF has not been successful and, as a result, the patient has experienced complications such a stroke and hypertension. After having two AF ablation procedures with minimal success, the patient was an ideal candidate for the Watchman FLX.

More than 100,000 patients have received the permanent implant worldwide in a one-time procedure that is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. The permanent device, which can’t be seen outside the body, doesn’t have to be replaced. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.

Read more information on HCA Midwest Health and its cardiovascular services.

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