Up to 50% of patients with afib are at serious risk of stroke and are not protected by anticoagulation due to difficulties with traditional anticoagulants. The Watchman device is a left atrial appendage closure device that acts as a filter that prevents embolism and stroke in patients with afib without need for long term anticoagulation and associated risk of life threatening bleeding. IT is an alternative to Coumadin in patients who are eligible for anticoagulation or can’t take long term anticoagulation, and prevents strokes as wall as traditional anticoagulation regimens.
Afib and stroke – One of the biggest risks of afib is the risk of stroke. Patients with afib may have a 5 times greater incidence of stroke from their afib – even if asymptomatic! The standard treatment to prevent stroke risk in high risk patients is Coumadin or one of the newer agents ( xarelto, pradaxa, eliquis – etc). However may patients cant take these agents leaving them at risk for disabling stroke.
The Watchman device – Is a newer device ( although not new – it has been around since 2005!) that has been proven to be as beneficial as Coumadin in preventing the disabling strokes from afib. It is a small umberalla like device that is inserted via the femoral vein into the left atrial appendage to prevent blood clots in this area from forming and emoblizing to the brain. It takes about an hour and has been shown to be very safe! While it does currently require a short course of anticoagulation, greater then 95% of patients are protected without the need for long term anticoagulation after the procedure. It is an excellent option for patients who cant take long term anticoagulation but need protection from stroke!
Availability – Currently awaiting approval by the FDA. When approved florida electrophysiology associates and JFK hospital will be one of 2 centers in South Florida to place the device. This is because we were involved in researching the device and already have experience with placing the device.
For more information and downloads regarding the Watchman Device, click here.