Instead, she can devote her attention sewing christening gowns for some of her 33 great-grandchildren. A family woman who also has 29 grandchildren, Sedig is thrilled about the implant and says it’s drastically improved her quality of life.
“It’s a life-changer,” says Sedig, 78, who lives in Buckeye, Ariz. with her husband, Albert. “It’s fantastic. Every time I bump something, I don’t have to worry about bleeding anymore. With blood thinners, you’re always worrying.”
Sedig had Boston Scientific’s WATCHMAN device implanted in May at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, about two months after it was approved by the FDA. St. Joseph’s is one of just 40 hospitals nationwide approved to use the innovative technology.
Sedig has had an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation for the past six years and had been on blood thinners since 2001 to reduce the risk of stroke. Blood thinners can produce bleeding complications; nearly half of all AFib patients who are eligible for blood thinning medical treatments currently go untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.
AFib affects more than 5 million people in the United States—about 70 percent of people with AFib are between the ages of 65 and 85. People with AFib have a five times greater risk of stroke because the irregular heartbeat causes blood to pool in the upper chambers of the heart which can lead to the formation of clots.
“We’re delighted and encouraged to be able to offer our patients a minimally invasive alternative to long-term use of blood thinners,” says interventional cardiologist Hursh Naik, MD, medical director of structural heart services and vice chair of cardiology at St. Joseph’s.
Dr. Naik says the device is implanted through a small incision in the groin and led through a catheter into a patient’s heart where it can filter potential blood clots. The minimally invasive procedure helps reduce pain and expedite healing.
For Sedig, the procedure was a snap. She was home the next day and quickly resumed her normal life. That means spending a lot of time at the sewing machine working on christening gowns for her great grandchildren.
Gone are the monthly visits to the doctor for blood tests. She says she feels as if her life has returned to normal – and she urges other AFib patients to consider the procedure.
“What do you have to lose?” she asks. “I can’t imagine anyone who has the opportunity to do it wouldn’t do it. I can see no drawbacks.” - St. Joseph’s