Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common heart problems. AFib causes a fast and irregular heartbeat in the heart’s upper chambers, known as the atria. People with AFib are at an increased risk of stroke caused by blood clots that form in the heart.
Many patients with atrial fibrillation take a blood thinner such as Warfarin to reduce the risk of clotting. Other blood thinners for this condition include Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis. But blood thinners may not be the best solution for everyone.
What Is the Watchman™ Procedure?
The Watchman™ Device could be an alternative to blood thinners for patients with AFib. This small device, about the size of a quarter, fits permanently inside the heart's chamber, where clots are likely to form.
It is implanted in the heart in a hour-long minimally invasive procedure using a catheter through a leg vein in the heart. Then, we make a tiny hole through the wall between the heart's two upper chambers so that the catheter can reach the left atrial appendage — the source of most stroke-causing blood clots. The Watchman Device is lodged in place there.
In 2019, we implanted our 100th Watchman™ Device.
This procedure is performed under general anesthesia, and you won't feel pain. You'll likely spend only one night in the hospital and can return to your normal activities soon after the procedure.
How Effective Is the Watchman™ Device?
Having this permanent heart implant can:
- Effectively reduce stroke risk in AFib patients about as much as taking Warfarin does.
- Eliminate the need for frequent blood tests.
- Eliminate food-and-drink restrictions that come with Warfarin.
In a clinical trial, 9 out of 10 people were able to stop taking Warfarin just 45 days after having the Watchman™ Device.