Freeman Advantage Program focuses on stroke prevention


JOPLIN, Mo. — Cardiovascular disease accounts for one in every three deaths in the United States.

And with February being heart month, what better time for area seniors to learn about the disease and how to prevent it?

That was the focus of the monthly Freeman Advantage Program.

Guest speaker Dr. Ryan Longnecker says one of the most promising treatments to prevent strokes is called the watchman procedure.

It’s a permanent implant that goes into a flap of skin in the left atrium of the heart that predisposes some people for strokes caused by a blood clot.

Dr. Ryan Longnecker MD, Freeman Interventional Cardiologist, said, “But when we’re old it literally is a flap of tissue that hangs out there and doesn’t do anything other than collect clot, well the watchman device sits inside this left atrial appendage and basically traps the clot in the bottom of it, and it seals over the top so that new blood and clot can’t get down in there.”

The device isn’t offered by the Freeman Health System yet, but that will be changing in the near future.

Longnecker says the big advantage is that patients that are good candidates for the procedure can stop taking blood thinners once it’s implanted.

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