WATCHMAN: An Implant that Helps Reduce Stroke Risk from Afib
Atrial fibrillation (Afib or AF) can put you at risk for heart disease and stroke due to blood clots. Managing these risks are very important. You may be able to be treated with medication, but in some cases this is not the best solution. An implantable device, called WATCHMAN, that helps close off the left atrial appendage — where blood clots may form in those with Afib — may be the best solution. Your cardiologist can help you decide which treatment is best for you.
The cardiac specialists at WellSpan Health offer you an array of leading treatments and technologies to reduce stroke risk related to Afib and enhance your quality of life. An experienced team of electrophysiologists, noninvasive cardiologists, interventionalists and nurses collaborates with you to develop tailored treatment plans.
Your Options for Treating Afib
One treatment for Afib is oral anticoagulation (blood thinning) medication. This type of treatment is a good solution for many people with atrial fibrillation as the medications decrease the blood’s ability to clot. Decreased clotting keeps fewer harmful blood clots from forming and potentially causing stroke.
For some patients though, these medications come with the risk of increased bleeding problems. If you and your doctor have decided against medications or you have experienced bleeding problems while on one of these medications, there may be an alternative therapy available.
Advances in minimally invasive technologies have changed treatment strategies to minimize risk of stroke from Afib. Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) procedures eliminate the possibility of blood collecting in the left atrial appendage, which is where most Afib-related blood clots form.
Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Procedure
Closing the left atrial appendage involves implanting a small device in the opening of the atrial appendage. The WATCHMAN left atrial appendage closure device is implanted through a simple procedure under general anesthesia. The implant is shaped like an umbrella to capture blood clots, and is inserted in a single acccess site (usually the groin) and guided toward the left atrium of the heart.
Over time heart tissue forms over and around the device, permanently sealing off the opening to the left atrial appendage. This essentially walls off access to the appendage completely preventing blood from flowing in and out of the appendage and keeping clots from escaping if they happen to form inside the appendage.
Potential Benefits of Atrial Appendage Closure
This procedure provides many benefits for people with Afib. The benefits vary depending on your condition and overall health.
- The procedure is minimally invasive. Usually only one access site is required at the groin.
- Recovery tends to be quick and easy. Most patients leave the hospital one day after the procedure.
- Anticoagulant medications could no longer be necessary after tests have confirmed that the appendage has been sealed off.
- Most patients can return to normal activity within a few days to a week.
Hear from a WATCHMAN Patient
When atrial fibrillation and the bleeding risks of blood thinners started to slow down Ingrid, an active 55-year-old, she talked to her doctor about an alternative treatment. See how WATCHMAN helped give her a new lease on life.
Watch Ingrid's Story
Distances are estimated from zip code: 17401. Update zip code