New atrial fibrillation alternative

LOS ANGELES Ian Coster loves to kid his little brother about his acting career.

"He is so dramatic, he is an actor," said Ian Coster.

Not only does Nicolas Coster share his brother's humor, the two also share a condition called atrial fibrillation: a type of irregular heart beat.

Both were put on blood thinners because people with "A-Fib" have a higher chance of getting strokes.

When a person has atrial fibrillation, the atrial chamber instead of pushing the blood out tends to quiver, causing the blood to pool up and that is when blood clots occur.

"If you have a clot and it gets dislodged there is a good chance that it will end up in the brain," said Cardiologist Shephal Doshi from the Pacific Heart Institute in Santa Monica.

Dr. Shephal Doshi is investigating whether he can prevent strokes with a type of "parachute," called the Watchman.

Doctors use a catheter to deliver the device to the heart and deploy it. In time, the parachute seals the chamber where blood collects.

"What we're looking for is a means to reduce a need for the blood thinners because of the problems associated with taking them," Dr. Doshi said.

"It is risky being on blood thinners. If your blood is too thin it can cause a hemorrhagic stroke," said Nicolas Coster.

"If we could eliminate the need for such a drug as Coumadin that would have a bigger impact in most peoples lives than the atrial fibrillation itself," said Dr. Doshi.

Like any heart procedure, there are risks like bleeding and damage to the heart muscle. The Coster brothers got their procedures done about a year ago and are very pleased.

"I would have to recommend it. It has made an enormous change in the both of our lives," said Ian Coster.

Dr. Doshi says he tells patients that they won't feel better or worse with irregular heart beat. The purpose of the trial is to prevent blood clots.

The official name of the parachute study is called the PROTECT-AF Trial.


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