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New heart implant surgery performed at Baton Rouge General

Device eliminates stroke risk, need for blood thinners

BATON ROUGE, La. – There is a new option for Baton Rouge residents who are dependent on blood thinners due to atrial fibrillation (AFib). A one-time heart implant surgery -- performed first today at Baton Rouge General by cardiologists Robert Drennan, Garland Green and Lance LaMotte – reduces stroke risk for a lifetime and eliminates the need to take blood thinners.

About 2 to 3 million people in the U.S. – many with AFib -- need to take blood thinners like Coumadin or Warfarin. Patients on blood thinners are unable to work certain jobs, like in construction or plants. In addition, these patients are required to make frequent visits to a “Coumadin” or anticoagulation clinic for blood tests that monitor how well the medicine is working to prevent clots.

“Blood thinners reduce the risk of stroke, yet some AFib patients don’t take them as directed, making them even more at risk,” said Dr. Drennan, electrophysiologist at Cardiovascular Institute of the South. “Within 45 days, 90 percent of patients who have this surgery are able to stop taking blood thinners, and that is truly life-changing for them.”

During the heart implant surgery, the “Watchman” device is placed into a part of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). Ninety percent of stroke-causing blood clots that come from the heart form in the LAA. The Watchman device permanently closes off this part of the heart to keep those clots from escaping. The non-invasive procedure takes about an hour, and patients typically stay one to two days in the hospital. The implanted device is about the size of a quarter.

“A person with AFib is five times more likely to suffer a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat,” said Dr. LaMotte, interventional cardiologist at Baton Rouge Cardiology Center. “We are on the forefront of cardiac care with this new procedure, and it is truly something to consider if you or your family member falls in this category.”

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About Baton Rouge General Medical Center
Baton Rouge General Medical Center is the area’s first community hospital with 588 licensed beds between two campuses. Baton Rouge General opened its doors in 1900, and has provided the Greater Baton Rouge community with high-quality healthcare for generations. An accredited teaching hospital since 1991, Baton Rouge General serves as an affiliate of Tulane University School of Medicine, and offers other medical education programs, including a School of Nursing, School of Radiologic Technology, Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at @BRGeneral.