By Kamran Zamanian, Ph.D, and Sean Collins, iData Research Inc.

The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small cavity located in the wall of the left atrium. The appendage has received significant medical literature coverage in recent years for its role in generating stroke-causing blood clots in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF). More recently, the devices designed to close the LAA have become a popular subject for debate among AF patients, regulatory officials, and medical device enthusiasts alike.

Atrial Fibrillation And The Left Atrial Appendage

AF is a form of cardiac arrhythmia in which the heart beats at a rapid and irregular pace for periods of varying length. Though most AF episodes are symptomless, AF should not be taken lightly. During episodes of AF the irregular heart rhythm reduces blood flow from the heart, causing blood to stagnate in the LAA and form clots. Blood clots can impede the flow of blood to the brain, increasing the risk of stroke. In fact, AF patients are five times more likely to…