For those who have Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) and are at risk of a stroke, there is a new procedure available to reduce the risk. The procedure implants a small WATCHMAN device into the heart. Data assures us that the WATCHMAN is a safe and effective alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin, also known as Coumadin, which may have side effects of severe, or heavy bleeding.
What is the WATCHMAN Heart Procedure?
First of all, understand that WATCHMAN is a one-time, permanent procedure. No replacement should ever be necessary. While the patient is under general anesthesia, the surgeon will insert a tube in through the upper leg, used to guide the WATCHMAN into your left atrial appendage. This takes an hour or less. Routinely, the patient will spend the night following the procedure in the hospital.
Generally, the patient will continue to take warfarin and/or aspirin as previously prescribed until the heart tissue grows over the WATCHMAN device, forming a barrier against blood clots. This takes about 45 days, after which your doctor will perform a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (or TEE test) to assure the area is sealed. If so, your doctor will most likely stop the warfarin prescription and routine use of aspirin.
How Can the WATCHMAN Device Benefit You?
The WATCHMAN procedure has proven to be a good alternative to long-term use of blood thinners, with fewer risk of side-effects such as bleeding. It helps control the risk of blood clots and stroke and eliminates the dietary restrictions often indicated with the use of warfarin.
The WATCHMAN is the only device of its kind approved by the FDA for use in reducing the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation, not caused by a heart valve problem.
Where Can I Get the Procedure?
Schedule an appointment with one of our Colorado Springs cardiologists for your consultation. Be sure to bring any relevant health history and medication along with you. We will carefully review your medical information and offer advice as to whether we feel the Watchman Procedure is right for you. If we agree this would be your best option, we will schedule your procedure for you.