Providence Health Heart Program Leads Midlands with First Implant of WATCHMAN FLX™

October 5, 2020

Dr. Garrison Morgan and Providence Health’s Structural Heart team performed the Midlands’ first implant of the next-generation WATCHMAN FLX™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device on a patient with atrial fibrillation (AF) Sept. 9, 2020. The hospital is one of the first in South Carolina to offer the WATCHMAN FLX device, built upon the most studied and implanted LAAC device in the world, as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with AF not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AF).

In addition, Providence Health is one just 100 hospitals across the country to be selected as a site for the International Champion-AF trial.  This clinical trial is aimed at providing further evidence of the efficacy of the FDA approved WATCHMAN device. If successful, the trial will provide evidence that the Watchman procedure should be offered as first-line therapy and an alternative to a lifetime of oral anticoagulant drug therapy for those diagnosed with NVAF  without further indication or restriction.

Up to 6 million Americans are estimated to be affected by AF – an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart, though some patients will not exhibit any obvious symptoms. People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke4 than those with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN FLX 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 bloodstream 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 their blood thinner.  This new generation of technology has a new design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.

The WATCHMAN technology has been implanted in more than 100,000 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 may go home the same day.

For more information on the WATCHMAN FLX device, please visit: or call the Providence Health Structural Heart department at 803-673-0925.