SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A procedure at Willis-Knighton claims to greatly reduce the risk of stroke for people with atrial fibrillation.
AFib, as it is more commonly known, is an irregular heart rate that causes poor blood flow. That, in turn, can lead to blood clots and stroke.
Every year, more than 200,000 people are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.
Among them is Mildred Jones.
"I sure didn't want to have a stroke."
Most patients with AFib can take blood-thinning medications to help reduce the risk of clots.
But Jones also has macular degeneration, which prevents her from using blood thinners.
"It's very uncomforting to tell a patient 'Yeah you're at a very high risk for a stroke, but we can't put you on blood thinners because you've had bleeding three times, four times and required blood transfusions,'" Dr. Sai Konduru said.
So Jones met with Konduru about the minimally invasive Lariat procedure to help lower her risk of stroke.
"The procedure entails using a pre-tied suture device that is shaped like a lasso," Konduru explained.
"But now this is a minimally invasive procedure. The only incision patients get is one small incision under the breastbone and one small incision near the groin."
This is the first time a procedure like this is being offered in this region.
"You are basically eliminating the source of strokes," Konduru said. "The left atrial appendage, which is what we are tying down with this procedure with a suture, is the source for stroke in about 90-95% of the time.
"And now we are able to eliminate that source without subjecting a patient to an open-heart surgery."
Jones got the procedure about three weeks ago.
After a short hospital stay, she was back on her feet, even cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
"I tire easy. But like I said, I'm 82 years old, what can you expect?
"But I'm getting better every day."
Konduru said the procedure has reduced Jones's risk of a stroke by about 90 percent to 95 percent.