What is a Watchman Device?
The Watchman Device is a small implant placed in the heart that reduces the risk of stroke in patients with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). Patients with AFib are at an increased risk of a stroke, this is mainly due to blood clots forming in a small chamber in the top of the heart - known as the left atrial appendage.
What to expect from the Left Atrial Appendage Closure (Watchman Device Procedure)
This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. The surgery involves inserting a catheter into a vein in the leg and using an X-ray to guide the catheter to the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA). Once the catheter is in place, the Watchman device is implanted to close the LAA where the blood clots form.
After the surgery is done you will continue to take warfarin (Coumadin) for the next 30 to 45 days, at which you will have a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) as well. If the (TEE) shows that the device is in a good position then you will be able to stop taking warfarin (Coumadin).
The WATCHMAN procedure usually takes an hour or less to perform and patients usually spend one night in the hospital. Your cardiologist will discuss your individual post-procedure plans with you when you are discharged, but most people will return to their normal routines within a week or two.
Who is the Watchman Device for?
The WATCHMAN device may be right for people who meet the following criteria:
- They have atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem
- They have been recommended for blood thinning medicines by their doctor
- They can't take warfarin but need an alternative
Who is Watchman not for?
People who should not receive the WATCHMAN implant include but are not limited to those who:
- Cannot take oral anti-coagulant or blood thinners, aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Should not or cannot undergo heart catheterization procedures
- Have a left atrial appendage that is too large or too small to fit the WATCHMAN
- Have an allergy or sensitivity to nitinol (nickel and titanium) or any of the other materials in the WATCHMAN implant
- Need to take blood thinners for reasons other than AFib stroke risk reduction
Facts about the Watchman Device
- A person with AFib is five times more likely to suffer a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat.
- 96% of patients were able to stop taking their anti-coagulant/blood thinner just 45 days after the procedure.
- 99% of patients were able to stop taking their anti-coagulant/blood thinner one year after the procedure.