The Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant

For patients considered suitable for warfarin by they but have reason to seek an alternative, the Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device is an implant-based alternative to warfarin.

The Watchman Device is implanted in the left atrial appendage of the heart to permanently close off this small pouch and keep harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream. By closing off the left atrial appendage, the source of more than 90% of stroke-causing blood clots that come from the heart in people with non-valvular AF, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat too fast and with chaotic rhythm (fibrillation).

This condition can cause blood to pool and form clots in an area of your heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). If a blood clot forms, it can travel through an artery to the brain and cause a stroke.

People with untreated AF may be at greater risk for stroke than people with normal heart rhythms.

  • About one third of people with atrial fibrillation will have a stroke
  • AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling
  • In non-valvular AF, the left atrial appendage (LAA), a small pouch on the top of the heart, is believed to be the source of a majority of stroke-causing blood clots

What stroke risks are associated with AF?

Atrial fibrillation can decrease the heart’s pumping efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Poor pumping increases the risk of clots forming in the heart chambers. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body. Stroke is the most common and perhaps the most feared complication of AF.

How can you tell if you are at risk for stroke?

Anyone can have a stroke no matter your age, race, or gender. But the chances of having a stroke increase if you have certain risk factors:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep Apnea

What is the Watchman LAAC Implant?

The Watchman Implant is designed to keep harmful blood clots from entering the blood stream, potentially causing a stroke. It is made of materials that are common to many medical devices, is about the size of a quarter and cannot be seen outside the body.

How is the Watchman Device Implanted?

A Watchman Implant is a one-time implant typically performed under general anesthesia. Similar to a stent procedure, your doctor will guide the Watchman Implant into your heart through a flexible tube (catheter) inserted through a vein in your upper leg. The implant does not require open heart surgery and does not need to be replaced. Your doctor will cross from the right side of the heart to the left side of the heart. Once the position is confirmed, your doctor will release the implant to leave it permanently fixed in your heart. You would then need to stay in the hospital overnight and recovery typically takes about twenty-four hours. After a few months, you may be able to stop taking warfarin.

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