WATCHMAN: An Implant that Helps Reduce Stroke Risk from Afib
Atrial fibrillation (Afib or AF) is an abnormal heart rhythm that results in an irregular heartbeat. This irregular heart beat can cause blood clots to form in the left atrial appendage, a chamber of the heart. As a result, patients with Afib have a five-times higher risk of stroke.
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. Our expert team of electrophysiologists, noninvasive cardiologists, interventionalists and nurses collaborates with you to develop tailored treatment plans.
Your Options for Treating Afib
There are several blood thinning medications that can lower the risk of stroke. However, these medications can be difficult for some patients to take and places patients at a higher risk of bleeding.
Instead of taking blood thinning medications long term, many patients can be protected from stroke with the Watchman device. Watchman is a device that is implanted in the heart and blocks the left atrial appendage, reducing the risk of stroke.
Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Procedure (Watchman)
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
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