Three million people in the U.S. from atrial fibrillation--a condition in which blood doesn't flow freely around the heart, causing a clot reservoir in the left atrial appendage that can come loose and result in stroke. A third of all strokes are caused by this type of clot, according to Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Delos Cosgrove.
After trying multiple approaches to sealing off the pocket that gathers the clot, Cosgrove was inspired by women's hair clips to create a device that could keep the appendage closed, reports the Palm Beach Post. AtriCure, a Cleveland Clinic spin-off, received marketing approval for the new device earlier this year. The technology uses a wand to insert the AtriClip (pictured) between a patient's ribs onto the appendage. It snaps shuts and the potentially deadly opening is closed within a few weeks.
Cosgrove sees a major market for the AtriClip. It's less invasive than other procedures in development--a key feature considering many atrial fibrillation patients are over 65--and is safe for those who are unable to take blood thinners to prevent stroke. "If you and I move the clock forward five years, I think these devices will be commonplace," Douglas Packer, president of the Heart Rhythm Society, tells the Post.
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