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Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion

Is LAAO Right for Me?

How does a doctor decide if LAAO is the best treatment for me?

When a person with atrial fibrillation (AF) develops a blood clot in the heart, it most often develops in the left atrial appendage (LAA). LAAO is a procedure that places a device that acts as a barrier to prevent blood clots in the left atrial appendage from going into the blood stream and causing a stroke.

LAAO won’t prevent other types of strokes that are caused by high blood pressure and narrowing of the blood vessels to the brain.

When deciding if LAAO is the best treatment for you, your doctor will look at your:

When you have an LAAO device, you can still have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if you need it.

When is LAAO not the best treatment?

There are many reasons why LAAO may not be the best treatment, such as when you:

  • already have a blood clot in the heart (the blood clot has to be treated before LAAO)
  • have an LAA that is too big or too small for the LAAO device
  • can’t take aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • can’t have a procedure that puts a long thin wire (called a catheter) in your heart
  • are allergic or sensitive to nickel or titanium (types of metal)
  • have a serious heart valve disease


Current as of: January 25, 2019

Author: Cardiovascular Health and Stroke SCN, AHS