Atrial Fibrillation, or AFIB, is the most common abnormal heart rhythm and increases in prevalence with increasing age. AFib increases the risk of stroke as blood tends to form clots in the heart with 90% of these clots forming in an “ear-shaped” outpouching in the top left chamber of the heart known as the left atrial appendage.
The Watchman Device is a small implant shaped like a small parachute or umbrella, about the size of a quarter, which is placed in the left atrial appendage and reduces the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation who are not able to take blood thinners. This is a one-time procedure, where the Watchman device is inserted via a vein from the groin. Watchman may be a life-changing alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin, coumadin, or other blood thinners.
Patients with Atrial Fibrillation who would usually qualify for Watchman device are those:
- That have had bleeding complications with blood thinners
- Have not been able to regularly take blood thinners
- Have frequent falls or are at high risk for falling
- Are having difficulty keeping their blood thin enough
- Have high-risk occupations, have lifestyles that would make taking blood thinners risky
- Do not wish to or cannot take blood thinners for the rest of their lives,
- Need multiple blood thinners due to heart artery disease, increasing their bleeding risk significantly
- Each patient is different and should discuss this in detail with their doctor to see if they would qualify.