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Health Beat: Catching clots: Saving A-fib patients

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 12 2014 05:31:52 PM CST

In 2014, 500,000 people will be told they have atrial fibrillation.

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -

In 2014, 500,000 people will be told they have atrial fibrillation. In simple terms, it's an irregular heartbeat.

A-fib can set off a stroke, but now a new device is helping catch the clots before they kill.

"I'm not afraid to take a chance," said Paul Burris, who is ready for a change. "I couldn't participate in sports. Even walking was real painful for me."

Burris lives with an irregular heartbeat. He took blood thinners to prevent clots, but they also prevented him from enjoying the things he loves, especially his grandchildren.

"Their parents are constantly yelling, 'Don't do that because you're going to bruise grandpa. You know he bruises easy,'" Burris explained.

Then, Burris became one of the first to try out the cardiac plug.

Dr. Christian Machado, an electrophysiologist, is the first heart care expert in the nation to treat patients with it for a new FDA trial.

"It's almost like a filter, or an umbrella filter, that is deployed in the left atrial appendage, which is the area of the heart that collects clots in patients with atrial fibrillation," said Machado, medical director of electrophysiology services and arrhythmia device clinic, Providence Hospital.

The plug collects any loose clots and reduces the risk of stroke. It's changed Burris' life.

"The biggest part of it is being able to play with my grandchildren," he said. "That was the greatest gift that they've given me."

Machado said the plug has worked in every single patient he's tried it on without complications. So far, that is seven patients.

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