‘Watchman Device’ alternative to blood thinners
Lucy Kuglin found an alternative to a blood thinner for atrial fibrillation - or A-fib - that helped her reduce her risk of stroke and bleeding.
Vuy Li, M.D., cardiologist
with Richmond Cardiology Associates who specializes in electrophysiology,
suggested she could be a candidate for a "Watchman Device" that could allow her
to stop taking blood thinners. After tests showed she was a candidate, she had
the procedure in July 2019. More than a year later, she's really thankful she
"I came through it fine,"
she recalls of the procedure where the device was implanted in her Left Atrial
Appendage where blood clots can form because of A-Fib. The blood clots are what create the stroke
risk. A-Fib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke,
heart failure and other cardiovascular complications.
The device keeps the clots
from forming and when successful, allows a patient to be taken off of blood
thinners, which can increase risk of bleeding and bruising and sometimes
require frequent visits to the doctor for tests. Kuglin was able to stop taking
blood thinners after 45 days and was off the medication after six months. Today
she only needs to take a daily aspirin for her condition.
She already takes many medicines
for other conditions, so she said it was great to be able to reduce the number
of medications she has to take each day. She had her first heart cath when she
had issues in her 30s and has had a pacemaker since she was in her 50s.
The Watchman Device is
implanted under general anesthesia and typically takes less than two hours to
perform. The surgery involves inserting a catheter into a vein in the leg and
using X-ray to guide the catheter to the heart for implantation.
"Dr. Li is a wonderful
person and a wonderful doctor. He's very comforting and honest."