Forrest General Hospital finds way to help prevent strokes

HATTIESBURG, Miss (WHLT) — Heart doctors at Forrest General Hospital tried a new procedure designed to help people with an irregular heartbeat. The new Watchman device that is implanted into a patient’s heart can prevent strokes.

50 percent of people who have an irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation don’t even know they have it.

Dr. Mark Borganelli’s father was a patient that had no idea his heart was beating faster than normal, because he could not sense when he was in atrial fibrillation.

“Atrial fibrillation is when the top of the heart is beating so fast that the blood stops pumping, becoming stagnant, which causes blood clots,” he said.

One of the earlier and most common ways to treat atrial fibrillation is by taking blood thinners. The Watchman device will close off an area of the heart to keep blood clots out of the blood stream, specifically for patients who are poor candidates for long-term blood thinners.

The first patient Dr. Borganelli conducted the procedure on suffered from taking blood thinners as a treatment.

“He would go on blood thinners and lose quarts of blood, essentially. So, we were able to offer this to him,” he said. “So it was exciting because it was such a successful procedure.”

The procedure will be able to improve the quality of life Dr. Borganelli expresses.

“It’s much better because you don’t have to go to the doctor all the time to get your blood checked to see how thin your blood is or how thick it is. You don’t have to constantly worry about did I take my medicine or did I not.”

Forrest General and North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo are the only two hospitals in the State to preform the procedure.

One out of every six strokes that come through the emergency room are caused by atrial fibrillation.

If you think you are at risk, meet with your local health care provider for additional information.

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