The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Percutaneous occlusion of the left atrial appendage in non-valvular atrial fibrillation for the prevention of thromboembolism.
It replaces the previous guidance on Percutaneous occlusion of the left atrial appendage for atrial fibrillation (NICE interventional procedures guidance 181, June 2006).
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the irregular and rapid beating of the upper two chambers of the heart (the atria) which increases the risk of stroke. In people with AF, blood clots often form in the left atrial appendage, which is a small sac off the left atrium. These clots can travel in the blood to the brain, where they may block the blood flow, causing a stroke. In this procedure, a special device is inserted that blocks the mouth of the left atrial appendage in order to prevent migration of the blood clot.
This guidance represents the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, healthcare professionals are expected to take this guidance fully into account. However, the guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to implement the guidance, in their local context, in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations. Nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.
Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.