On July 1, doctors at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center implanted a special device aimed at preventing strokes in Veteran patients. The device, called the Amulet, catches blood clots before they reach the blood stream and eliminates the need for blood-thinning medication.

Houston team prepares Amulet device catheter delivery system for insertion into the heart.

Houston team prepares Amulet device catheter delivery system for insertion into the heart.

“The Amulet device is the second FDA-approved device on the market for prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation who cannot take blood thinners,” said Dr. Irakli Giorgberidze, director, Arrhythmia Service and Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine. “This is a major step forward in the care of our Veterans with high risk of stroke and bleeding.”

Blood clots can cause a stroke

The left atrial appendage (LAA), a small pouch connected to the upper left chamber of the heart, is an area where blood clots can form in people suffering from atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib can disrupt the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood, allowing it to pool and collect in the LAA, causing an increased risk for clotting.

If clots reach the blood stream, they can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

For patients with AFib who are unable to take blood-thinning medication long term, the amulet device allows physicians to immediately seal off the LAA entirely and reduce the risk of stroke.

The Electrophysiology team, which includes Dr. Hamid Afshar and Dr. Paul Schurmann, played a vital role in bringing the technology to Houston VA.

“Doctors assured me it would be good.”

“This device implantation represents a very important milestone that Houston VA cardiology has achieved in leading the way to the very best, cutting edge medical care for our Veteran patients,” said Dr. Glenn Levine, chief, Houston VA cardiology section and professor of medicine, Baylor College of Medicine. “I couldn’t be prouder of Dr. Giorgberidze and the entire Electrophysiology team.”

Vietnam Veteran Reuben Cavazos received the first implant after consultations with the team.

“Since I had the stroke, it was determined that I would be a good candidate,” said Cavazos. “I was a little uneasy about it but after talking with the doctors, they assured me it would be good. I felt comfortable with all the doctors. They are wonderful people.”

By Nate Schaeffer

Public affairs specialist, Houston VA

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Published on Aug. 10, 2022

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Views to date: 9,620

14 Comments

  1. Daniel Reagan August 19, 2022 at 11:58 am

    I’m a Vietnam veteran and had a Stroke in 2021. Is this something that can help me?

  2. Hammond William August 17, 2022 at 8:25 am

    How would I be able to take this information to my VA facility? I’ve had blood clots in my legs and I have a small one in my brain. I’ve had one stroke already

  3. Stephen Martinez August 14, 2022 at 3:02 pm

    Surely this is not the only place where blood clots form. What about those clots that form in the legs?

  4. Phil Vasey August 12, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Sounds like the Watchman device that I had implanted 5 years ago.

  5. Teneille Geib August 11, 2022 at 11:55 pm

    So exciting and impressive! I would love more information on this and any research involved. We work directly with stroke patients at UC San Diego and also collaborate with the VA Hospital here.
    Thank you!

  6. Eric Hall USAF retired. Viet Nam Vet August 11, 2022 at 10:57 pm

    More power to the Doc’s. Go full steam ahead. “ First star on the right and straight on till morning “. Wonderful use of our faculties and facilities.

  7. John Hadder August 11, 2022 at 6:23 pm

    VA: Leaning with in with ground-breaking research to develop state-of-the-art medicine ?

  8. Deborah Berg August 11, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    I am a us army veteran, and I had a stroke at work, in 2005, currently taking blood thinner, 81 mg aspirin to prevent another stroke, and my mother died from a massage stroke.

  9. Larry Kiger August 11, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Is this the same as the Watchman that I have in my Heart sounds like it is about the same place.

  10. Walter Greene August 11, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    I had a major stroke

  11. Louiseanna McCann August 11, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    So proud that Dr. M. DeBakey came from Crowley, Louisiana

  12. Louis Morgan August 11, 2022 at 2:07 am

    Could be beneficial to many stroke victims and stroke proned vets!

  13. Daniel Kibbee August 11, 2022 at 12:49 am

    WOW another amazing device and surgical procedure by Dept of VA , Research & Development and VA and University Surgeons. At 65 stroke frightens me the most .

  14. Anthony G Dial August 10, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    Kudos to Houston VA and VA in general for the care they provide

Comments are closed.

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