By age 70, ten percent of Americans will experience atrial fibrillation (AFib), an abnormal heartbeat that dramatically increases the risk that they will have a stroke. AFib can cause blood to stagnate in a certain area of the heart, potentially causing blood clots to form. Clots then can escape the heart and cause blockages or stroke.
A blood-thinning medication is very effective in preventing the clots, but not every patient can take them because of internal bleeding complications or the risk of bleeding from falls or minor cuts and scrapes.
At Concord Hospital Center for Cardiac Care, the WATCHMAN device protects those patients, without blood thinners. The tiny wire and mesh device is threaded through a blood vessel into the heart, where it blocks blood from entering the left atrial appendage, the area where blood can pool and cause clots in AFib patients. For patients with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, this area is believed to be the source of most stroke-causing blood clots.
For patients with a WATCHMAN device, no blood gets in, so no clots can form to get out. WATCHMAN has been shown to be as effective as Warfarin at stroke prevention.
At Concord Hospital Center for Cardiac Care, WATCHMAN implants are performed by a team of Cardiac Associates physicians, including Dr. Adam Chodosh and Dr. Patrick Magnus as primary operators and Dr. Charles Wicks assisting with specialized testing.