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SANTA MARIA, CA – February 23, 2018 – Marian Regional Medical Center’s Sue J. Sword Heart Center is pleased to announce that it is among the first hospitals on the Central Coast to offer an alternative to long-term blood thinners with the newly improved Watchman™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant. This innovative device is not available anywhere between Santa Barbara and San Jose with the exception of our facility, mitigating the need to travel for such a procedure. The device was recently implanted by Dr. Brett Gidney using a minimally-invasive catheter-based delivery system.
For patients with AF who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN Implant is an alternative to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke. The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke is reduced such that patients can stop taking warfarin for atrial fibrillation.
People with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in the LAA. For patients with non-valvular AF, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots. If a clot forms in the LAA, it can increase one’s risk of having a stroke. Blood clots can break loose from the heart and travel in the blood stream to the brain or more rarely to other parts of the body.
“Before we had this breakthrough therapy available in Santa Maria, patients who had a risk for bleeding and a risk for stroke had no alternative options for treatment,” says Brett Gidney, MD, Medical Director, Marian Regional Medical Center Electrophysiology Lab. “This implant reduces the risk of stroke without needing to accept the long term bleeding risk that comes with taking a blood thinner.”
Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically go home the following day. Blood thinners are continued until an ultrasound confirms that the procedure worked as expected, usually 45 days after the initial implant.
This is just one of the many recent additions to the cardiac programs at Dignity Health Central Coast facilities. Marian’s Heart Center, rated among the top 10% nationally for heart care, also offers the world’s smallest pacemaker for patients with bradycardia, a slow or irregular heart rhythm. The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System requires no incision by utilizing a new type of heart device that provides patients with the most advanced pacing technology available at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker. Additionally, the Structural Heart Program at MRMC has been further enhanced by Joel Lardizabal, MD. Dr. Lardizabal recently implanted the first and only FDA-approved device designed to help reduce the risk of recurrent ischemic strokes in patients diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO) – a small opening between the upper chambers of the heart.
The innovative device will also soon be available at Dignity Health Central Coast’s French Hospital Medical Center.
For more information on the WATCHMAN Implant, please visit: www.watchmanimplant.com.
About Marian Regional Medical Center
Marian Regional Medical Center, located in Santa Maria, California, is a technologically advanced, 191-bed facility that provides safe, quality care to the communities it serves. Marian has been a recipient of the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence for four consecutive years, and was also named among the Top 10% in the Nation for Critical Care by Healthgrades. Marian is designated a STEMI Receiving Center in Santa Barbara County, and is designated a Level III Trauma Center by Santa Barbara County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency. The facility has achieved prestigious designation as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission for advanced, comprehensive care for stroke patients. Our cancer care program is accredited as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, and is one of only three programs between Los Angeles and San Francisco to receive an Outstanding Achievement Award.
The campus houses the most comprehensive perinatology/ neonatology program on the Central Coast, providing specialized care to the tiniest of patients. Marian is a member of Dignity Health Central Coast, which also includes Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, CA, French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, CA, St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, CA, and St. John’s Pleasant Valley in Camarillo, CA. Dignity Health of the Central Coast is an integrated network of top quality hospitals, physicians from the most prestigious medical schools, and comprehensive outpatient services including primary care offices, premier ambulatory surgery centers, technologically-advanced laboratories and imaging centers and a full service home health agency; all recognized for quality, safety and service. Each hospital is supported by an active philanthropic Foundation to help meet the growing health care needs of our communities.
About Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with an irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning medication such as warfarin.
Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of AF patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.
The WATCHMAN Implant is designed to close the LAA in order to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke for higher risk patients with non-valvular AF. The WATCHMAN Implant has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world.
Sara San Juan