WellSpan York Hospital physicians have implanted their 200th Watchman, a device that helps reduce the risk for stroke for patients with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a condition that can cause blood to pool in the heart.
“Implanting this device brings peace of mind to patients fearful of a stroke,” explained Brian Schuler, M.D., electrophysiologist, WellSpan York Hospital. “To be able to say we have given 200 people comfort with the Watchman is truly an honor for this team.”
Darryl Huffman, 65, of Harrisburg was the 200th patient to receive the implant surgery in mid-September. Two days after his procedure, Huffman was released from the hospital with no pain or complications.
“We were the first in the region to offer the Watchman procedure and are proud to have become such a regional destination for expert cardiac care,” said Keith Noll, senior vice president, WellSpan Health and president, WellSpan York Hospital. “This hospital does amazing things every day for our patients and our heart and vascular team is helping to lead the way.”
Schuler performed the implant along with Stewart Benton, M.D., interventional cardiologist, WellSpan York Hospital.
Many with A-fib, like Huffman, take multiple blood thinners to reduce the risk for stroke. However, the risk of major and minor bleeding and the risk for falls results in the potential for serious complications for patients on blood thinners.
“The ultimate goal is to get off blood thinners, and my doctors think I’ll be able to do that with the Watchman,” said Huffman. “This changes everything.”
The Watchman implant works by sealing off the heart’s left atrial appendage – a small sac where most strokes originate in people with A-fib. When this is sealed, blood is no longer able to pool in the appendage, so clots cannot form.
Using advanced imaging, the implant team guide the device through a vein in the groin to the heart, where it is deployed like a parachute to seal the appendage’s opening.
To learn more about the Watchman procedure and WellSpan Heart & Vascular care, visit WellSpan.org/Heart or call 717-812-4605.