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 Atrial Fibrillation (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 AF 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.
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.
Watch this recent HealthBreak video with Brett Gidney, MD to learn more.