If you have non-valvular atrial fibrillation and meet certain criteria, your cardiologist may recommend a treatment like the WATCHMAN implant. Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib, is an irregular heart beat that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. AFib prevents the heart from pumping blood efficiently, causing blood to pool in the heart chambers and form clots. Blood clots can form in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). If a blood clot travels in the bloodstream to another part of the body, it can block an artery to the brain and cause a stroke.
The WATCHMAN procedure may be right for you if you have a history of one of the following:
Major bleeding while taking blood thinners
Prior inability to maintain a stable therapeutic international normalized ratio (INR) or to comply with regular INR monitoring AND unavailability to of an approved alternative blood thinner agent
A medical condition, occupation or lifestyle placing the patient at high risk of major bleeding due to trauma
What is the WATCHMAN Procedure?
The WATCHMAN implant is a safe alternative to anticoagulation medication (blood thinners) for people with non-valvular AFib who meet certain criteria. It has been proven to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with non-valvular AFib.
During this one-time, minimally invasive transcatheter procedure, a cardiologist at Franciscan Health uses a catheter to guide the WATCHMAN implant to your left atrial appendage through a small incision in your upper leg. By permanently closing off your left atrial appendage, the WATCHMAN device prevents future clots from forming in this location.
Recovery from the WATCHMAN procedure
Following the procedure, a patient will be monitored overnight by Franciscan Health's cardiovascular team. Patients can expect to return home the next day and will continue taking blood thinners until the LAA is permanently closed off – typically 45 days.