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News Releases / 2013

New LARIAT Cardiac Procedure at CMH Reduces Risk of Stroke

Ventura, California, 12/02/2013

Community Memorial Hospital's Electrophysiologist, Dr. Ishu Rao, is among the first in the nation to perform the LARIAT™ procedure, an innovative way to treat atrial fibrillation in patients who are unable to take blood thinning medications.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) affects an estimated three million people, and patients with this condition are five times more likely to have a stroke. In people with atrial fibrillation, the heart beats irregularly, either too fast or too slow. This disruption makes it harder for the heart's upper and lower chambers to work together, leading to an increased likelihood that blood will pool and dangerous clots will form.

"Atrial fibrillation dramatically increases the risk of stroke from blood clots in the heart that can fly off into arteries of the head and block blood flow to the brain," Dr. Rao said. "The LARIAT offers hope to patients who cannot take blood thinners to prevent such strokes, but who remain at high risk for such an event."

Other benefits of the LARIAT™ procedure:

  • May help decrease the risk of stroke without affecting the rest of the heart;
  • The procedure is successful in about 95 percent of the patients. (Its impact in long-term risk of stroke is still unclear);
  • It is a permanent, one-time solution;
  • The non-surgical procedure poses a small risk to most patients;
  • There is minimal discomfort after the procedure;
  • Patients won't need frequent medical visits and blood tests required for patients on blood thinning medications.

The LARIAT™ procedure, performed under general anesthesia, uses two catheters. The first, carrying the FDA-approved LARIAT™ Suture Delivery Device, is inserted under the patient's rib cage and the other, which guides it into place, is sent to the heart's left atrial appendage (LAA).

Once in place, the LARIAT™ Suture Delivery Device places and tightens a loop stitch around the base of the LAA, permanently sealing it off from the rest of the heart and blocking stroke-causing blood clots from traveling to the brain.

"No stitches or incisions are required, and the patient typically will spend only two nights in the hospital," Dr. Rao said. "There is minimal post procedural discomfort. 

The LARIAT™procedure is approved and will be paid for by Medicare.  To find out if you are at risk for a stroke, visit

Community Memorial Hospital is a member of Community Memorial Health System, a not-for-profit health system, which is comprised of Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, and 12 family-practice health centers entitled Centers for Family Health.  The health system is located in Ventura County, California.