The left atrial appendage is a small, irregularly shaped sac located in the muscle
wall of the top left chamber of the heart known as the left atrium. In a properly
functioning heart, each time the heart contracts with a heartbeat, the blood in
the left atrium and left atrial appendage is squeezed out into the bottom left chamber,
known as the left ventricle. In patients with certain conditions, such as
atrial fibrillation, the left atrial appendage will not function properly.
Cardiologists at UF Health are highly skilled at effectively treating and managing
problems with the left atrial appendage.
Atrial Fibrillation and Left Atrial Appendage Function
When a patient has atrial fibrillation, the electrical impulses that control the
heartbeat do not fire in an orderly rhythm. Therefore, the atria cannot contract
and effectively squeeze blood into the ventricles. This can cause blood to collect
in the left atrial appendage and blood clots can form. When a blood clot is pumped
out of the heart, a stroke can occur.
Symptoms of Conditions of the Left Atrial Appendage
Patient with conditions related to the left atrial appendage, such as atrial fibrillation,
may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- A fluttering feeling in your chest
- Chest pain
- Fatigue, or excessive fatigue while exercising
- Rapid and/or irregular heart beat
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness in arms and legs
Treating Conditions of the Left Atrial Appendage
A patient with atrial fibrillation is five-to-seven times more likely to have a
stroke, so it is important to properly manage this condition. UF Health cardiologists
may suggest taking a blood-thinning medication. However, some patients may not be
able to take blood-thinning medicines and could benefit from other therapies such
as closure of their left atrial appendage.
Closure of the Left Atrial Appendage
If a patient is at risk for developing blood clots in the left atrial appendage
and cannot tolerate blood thinners or is at high risk for a fall or bleeding, cardiologists
may recommend undergoing a procedure to the left atrial appendage. The closure device
is introduced through a large vein in the leg and delivered to the heart. This procedure
can help reduce the risk of stroke and a patient may no longer need to take long-term
Why Choose UF Health for Treatment of Conditions of the Left Atrial Appendage?
The internationally recognized heart team experts at the UF Health Cardiovascular
Center are leaders in cardiac care, research and education. Our doctors have been
leaders in minimally invasive chest and heart surgery for more than two decades.
Our cardiothoracic (heart and chest) surgeons are professors and researchers at
one of the nation’s largest cardiothoracic training programs as part of the
University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.
Our heart team experts, as faculty of the
University of Florida Division of Cardiology – Jacksonville, participate
in numerous national and international clinical trials. Using the most sophisticated
equipment available, the center offers state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic
and rehabilitative cardiac services. The UF Health Cardiovascular Center –
Jacksonville is the only provider of many leading-edge interventional therapies
and treatment options in Northeast Florida, which often results in better outcomes
for cardiovascular patients.