Introducing the WATCHMAN™ to the Midlands

Providence Health is the first hospital in the Midlands to implant the newly approved WATCHMAN device for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (A-fib). People with A-fib have a five times greater risk of stroke. Blood thinning medicines such as warfarin have long been the standard method of preventing stroke-causing blood clots in A-fib patients. However, warfarin has its own lengthy list of potential complications and side effects.

Those who cannot tolerate the medicine now have an alternative.

Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). These blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body. In patients with non-valvular A-fib, the LAA is believed to be the major source of stroke-causing blood clots.

The WATCHMAN Implant closes off the LAA, which prevents harmful blood clots in the LAA from traveling to the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. 

This is a safer and effective alternative for many patients who previously had bleeding complications or were unable to tolerate blood thinners. 

Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time minimally invasive procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans, can feel like rapid irregular heartbeat or a fluttering in the chest. There may also be no symptoms at all. Yet, 20% of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of AF patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.

20% of all stroke occur in patients with atrial fibrillation.

The WATCHMAN Implant is designed to close the LAA in order to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke for higher risk patients with non-valvular AF. The WATCHMAN Implant has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world.

Physicians who wish to refer a patient for a WATCHMAN Implant can call Structural Heart Program at 803-673-0925 or fax orders to 803-256-5409.

Please talk to your doctor if you think may be a candidate for the WATCHMAN Device.