Permanent heart implant is the only FDA-approved device for the reduction of stroke risk in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation
Longview – CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic Electrophysiologist Stan Weiner, M.D., performed the first implant of the WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device on a patient with atrial fibrillation (AF) at CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center – Longview on November 12. This marks the 172nd WATCHMAN procedure for the CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic team, who were the first in East Texas to perform this procedure in 2016, offering an alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin for people with AF not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AF).
An estimated five million Americans are affected by AF – an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced, and over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.
“The WATCHMAN LAAC Implant provides physicians with a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with non-valvular AF,” said Dr. Weiner. “For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who are seeking an alternative to warfarin, the WATCHMAN Implant offers a potentially life-changing treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy. We are excited to add WATCHMAN to an already wide array of treatment options that we currently offer to patients with AF.”
The WATCHMAN device has been implanted in more than 50,000 patients worldwide and is done in a one-time procedure. It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
“People with atrial fibrillation are at significant risk of stroke, which can have a serious emotional and psychological effect on them,” said Mellanie True Hills, founder and chief executive officer, StopAfib.org, a patient advocacy organization for those living with Afib. “Thus, it is important for them to be aware of and understand recent medical advances and treatments that can help with stroke prevention.”