Stern Cardiovascular physicians perform new heart procedures at Baptist Memphis

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis and Stern Cardiovascular Foundation have joined forces to offer new treatments for atrial fibrillation and sudden cardiac arrest.

Stern Cardiovascular Foundation cardiologists Dr. Eric Johnson and Dr. Chris Ingelmo recently were the first in the region to perform the LARIAT procedure on patients with atrial fibrillation who are unable to take blood thinners.

Approximately three million people suffer from atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat condition, and they are five times more likely to have a stroke. A non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure, LARIAT provides stroke protection without the need for anticoagulation. The procedure is permanent and uses the newly FDA-approved LARIAT Suture Delivery Device.

“Afib patients have a heartbeat that is either too slow or too fast. This increases the likelihood that the blood will form dangerous clots,” said Dr. Johnson.

The procedure involves placing a stitch around the left atrial appendage of the heart. This closes the anatomical structure responsible for the predominant source of strokes related to atrial fibrillation.

“The procedure is an important advance in the treatment of atrial fibrillation and is a wonderful alternative for patients who can’t take blood thinners,” added Dr. Ingelmo.

Dr. Ingelmo also recently became the first physician in the region and in Tennessee to implant the Boston Scientific S-ICD® System, the world’s first and only commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function that can result in death. Most episodes are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. Recent estimates show that approximately 850,000 people in the United States are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

The S-ICD, which received FDA approval in 2012, is designed to provide the same protection from sudden cardiac arrest as traditional transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators. However, the entirety of the S-ICD System sits just below the skin without the need for thin, insulated wires – known as leads – to be placed into the heart itself. This leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched.

“The S-ICD technology is a novel approach to prevent sudden cardiac death without many of the risks associated with a traditional cardiac defibrillator and is an exciting advance in technology that will benefit many patients,” explained Dr. Ingelmo.

Dr. Ingelmo is the only physician in Memphis trained to perform the procedure, and Baptist Memorial hospitals are the only medical institutions in the region where this device is available.