Baptist Health Floyd: Stroke Prevention with the Watchman Device
At Baptist Health Floyd, the Watchman device reduces the risk of stroke by treating atrial fibrillation without using blood thinners. Learn more about the Watchman procedure and how it works to prevent strokes.
Stroke Prevention with the Watchman Device HealthTalks Transcript
Satya Garimella, MD
When patients are in atrial fibrillation, the heart is not pumping in a regular sequence. What happens is the blood pools in the upper chambers of the heart and it tends to form clots. These clots can get loose, and the major risk is having a stroke.
To prevent stroke, we use blood thinners. You have problems taking blood thinners for long term — for various reasons, either they have bleeding problems, or they’re on multiple medications, or we cannot control the blood levels of the blood thinners, or sometimes, for lifestyle modification.
The Watchman device plugs the left atrial appendage or the outpouching in the left upper chamber. Once the device is implanted, usually the appendage, or the outpouching, is sealed, and most of the clots, which are formed during atrial fibrillation, are formed in the outpouching of the appendage. That will not happen once the device is implanted, since the device seals the appendage.
So, what we do is we repeat the ultrasound in six weeks and make sure the appendage is sealed by the device, make sure there’s no leak, make sure there’s no clot on the top of the device. Once we see that the device is completely sealing the outpouching of the appendage, we can stop the blood thinners. It significantly helps a patient’s treatment and outlook.