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St. Joseph’s Medical Center Celebrates 100th Successful Implantation of Most Advanced AFIB Technology

Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center (SJMC) has reached the milestone of completing its 100th WATCHMAN FLX™ case. The WATCHMAN FLX device reduces the risk of stroke and is an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) not caused by a heart valve problem, also known as nonvalvular AF. St. Joseph’s is the first hospital in San Joaquin County to offer the WATCHMAN FLX device, which is the world’s most studied and implanted left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) device. This advanced procedure is led by SJMC's left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO) team, consisting of Dr. M. Basra, Dr. R. Chothia, Dr. W. Chien and Dr. U. Sandhu.

An estimated seven million Americans are affected by AF – an irregular heartbeat that can feel like a quivering heart 1 . People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms 2 . The WATCHMAN FLX device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may no longer need blood thinners. The enhanced technology of the WATCHMAN FLX helps treat patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.

“Building upon the well-established WATCHMAN technology, the WATCHMAN FLX device serves as a safe and effective stroke risk reduction alternative for patients with non-valvular AF, especially those with a compelling reason not to be on blood thinners,” said Joann Marks, RN, MSN, Director of the Morrissey Family Heart and Vascular Institute at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. “We are proud to have performed the 100th implant of this device at St. Joseph’s as it offers our patients a potentially life- changing treatment and allows us to treat a broader range of patients going forward.”

The WATCHMAN technology, a permanent device that does not need replacing, has been implanted in more than 200,000 patients worldwide. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes approximately one hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and are able to leave the following day.

For information on SJMC’s Morrissey Family Heart and Vascular Institute, please visit

Publish date: 

Monday, March 20, 2023

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Kellie Ryan, Manager of Communications

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