Unique tool keeps hearts beating at the Heart Hospital of New Mexico | KOB 4

Unique tool keeps hearts beating at the Heart Hospital of New Mexico

Casey Torres
Updated: February 21, 2020 12:45 PM
Created: February 21, 2020 12:19 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Heart Hospital of New Mexico participated in a lariat procedure trial with aMAZE Systems for about 2 to 3 years.

Now that the trial is over, the hospital still has access to the tool while they wait for the data to be completed.


The tool helps patients with the most common type of heart arrhythmia called Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

Instead of beating from top to bottom, the top part of the heart quivers because of disorganized electrical activity, explained Dr. Michael Bestawros, a cardiac electrophysiologist. That can lead to a stroke.

Dr. Michael Hoskins, an electrophysiologist at the hospital, said we’re all born with a pouch called the “left atrial appendage."

The pouch is harmless when our hearts rhythm is in sync, but when someone has AFib, the pouch fills up with blood which doesn’t come out easily.

That can form clots. If they find their way out — a stroke can happen.

"There’s an increase stroke risk associated with that, about 5-fold increased stroke risk and the strokes related to Atrial Fibrillation tend to be larger and more disabling than the average stroke,” said Dr. Michael Hoskins, an electrophysiologist.

The lariat procedure helps decrease the risk of a stroke.

“New Mexico Heart Institute and the Heart Hospital, (sic) we’re the first center in the state to perform this procedure as part of the clinical trial. We are also the only center in the southwest that has access to this technology,” said Dr. Hoskins.

In fact, the Heart Hospital is one of only 35 centers across the nation to have this tool.

This is how it works – a catheter is inserted just underneath the ribcage which is minimally invasive. It makes its way to the “pouch”. With magnets – doctors keep the pouch steady. Then the lariat basically ties a knot to keep blood from filling up the sack.

Before this procedure, patients would have open heart surgery which meant spending several days in the hospital in the ICU. Now, people can go home in two to three days after the procedure.

However, the procedure isn’t a cure to Atrial Fibrillation, but it can save patients’ lives by reducing the risk of a stroke.

Some possible symptoms of AFib are: palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath, light headedness and chest discomfort.

If you have any of those symptoms, visit your family doctor.

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