Study Suggests Closing Left Atrial Appendage Prevents Stroke from AFib

Stroke from AFib pic
Stroke from AFib

Dr. Marc Gerdisch, co-medical director of Franciscan Health’s Heart Valve Center and senior partner at Cardiovascular Surgery Associates, possesses more than 20 years of medical experience. Active within the professional community, Dr. Marc Gerdisch has been a member of numerous organizations and currently belongs to the American College of Cardiology.

The American College of Cardiology (ACC), an organization dedicated to improving cardiovascular health, recently released the results of a new study done on patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib). Presented at the ACC’s 66th Annual Scientific Session, the study found that closing the left atrial appendage during cardiac surgery significantly reduced patients’ risk of thromboembolism, a condition that can result in a stroke.

To complete their study, researchers analyzed more than 10,500 health records from 2011 and 2012 in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Adult Cardiac Surgery Database. Among the patients that were analyzed, researchers found that roughly 37 percent had their left atrial appendage closed during a cardiac procedure. Less than two percent of these patients were later hospitalized for thromboembolism. This percentage is 40 percent lower than the 2.5 percent of individuals who experienced thromboembolism and did not have their left atrial appendage closed.

Between the two groups, patients who had their left atrial appendage closed also saw a 21 percent decrease in hemorrhagic stroke and death and a 15 percent decrease in their rate of death. Given that anywhere from 2.7 and 6.1 million individuals in America are affected by AFib, and that 90 percent of strokes among patients with AFib result from clots in the left atrial appendage, these results are promising. Based on this study, researchers believe that closing the left atrial appendage is an effective way of protecting AFib patients from these common complications.


Catheter Ablation and AV Node Ablation in Treating Atrial Fibrillation

Dr. Marc Gerdisch pic
Dr. Marc Gerdisch

Dr. Marc Gerdisch practices thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in Indianapolis, offering care for a full range of complex conditions at Franciscan Health. Among Dr. Marc Gerdisch’s areas of focus is atrial fibrillation, and he participated in a landmark 2012 FDA study related to ABLATE Continued Access.

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive way of treating atrial fibrillation, which is also known as arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, and can lead to heart failure and blood clots. It typically involves the insertion of thin, flexible wires into the neck or groin area. The catheters are then threaded up to the heart, with the electrode at the tip generating heat. This heat effectively eliminates the heart tissue responsible for the arrhythmia. Alternatively, the catheters may employ below freezing temperatures for a similar purpose.

One variation on this procedure is AV node ablation, which is typically used when catheter ablation is either unsuitable or has proved unsuccessful. This involves the destruction of the atrioventricular node, which is sending irregular impulses to the heart’s lower chambers. Following such a procedure, a permanent pacemaker must be set in place as a heart rhythm regulator.

What Is Valve Disease?


Dr. Marc Gerdisch pic
Dr. Marc Gerdisch

A senior partner at Cardiac Surgery Associates, Dr. Marc Gerdisch is a member of the largest heart, vascular, and thoracic surgery practice in the United States. The chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Franciscan Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dr. Marc Gerdisch is a specialist in heart and valve diseases.

Valve disease is caused by structural changes in the heart that affect the opening and closing of heart valves. When the valves do not open fully, blood flow is obstructed. When the valves do not close properly, blood leaks backward into the ventricles.

Symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath, especially when performing routine activities or when lying flat on the bed, heart palpitations characterized by irregular heartbeats, swollen ankles and feet, rapid weight gain, dizziness and weakness, and chest discomfort.

To diagnose valve disease, a physician may perform a physical examination, which can reveal enlarged heart tissue or heart murmurs. Diagnostic testing such as echocardiogram or cardiac catheterization can provide more information about the presence and severity of valve disease, as well as the best options for treatment.

A Brief Overview of the Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular System pic
Cardiovascular System

Dr. Marc Gerdisch received his medical education and training at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine and the Loyola University Medical Center, respectively. In 2006, Dr. Marc Gerdisch joined Franciscan Health in Indianapolis, Indiana, as chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery and co-director of the hospital’s Heart Valve Center. Dr. Gerdisch is also a senior partner with Cardiac Surgery Associates.

The cardiovascular system, sometimes defined as the heart and circulatory system, is responsible for delivering blood to tissues and organs throughout the body. In addition to the heart, the cardiovascular system is comprised of the blood vessels (veins and arteries) and approximately five liters of blood. The heart, essentially a pump, circulates oxygen-carrying blood in a loop through the vast network of veins and arteries to all areas of the body and back to the lungs for re-oxygenation. In addition to oxygen, blood vessels are responsible for moving nutrients, hormones, and cellular waste.

As one of the body’s most vital systems, any injury or disease affecting cardiovascular performance should be treated with the utmost care. A heart attack is one of the most well-known, dangerous afflictions that can strike the cardiovascular system. Other conditions that can have negative cardiovascular effects include congenital heart disease and cardiomyopathy.