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WATCHMAN

A One-Time Implant that Helps Reduce AFib Stroke Risk

How Does AFib Increase Stroke Risk?

The average person with atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is five times more likely to have a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat.1 That’s because AFib can decrease the heart’s pumping capacity by as much as 30%.2 Because blood isn’t pumped out of the heart normally, it’s easier for blood cells to stick together and form clots in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA).2, 3 When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.1, 4

In people with atrial fibrillation not caused by heart valve problems (the most common type of AFib), more than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA.3 

LAA compressor
Alternative compressor

An Alternative to Blood Thinners

If you have a history of bleeding or a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for bleeding, your doctor may consider an alternative to blood thinners, such as the WATCHMAN Implant.

WATCHMAN is a permanent implant that offers an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners. It’s about the size of a quarter and made from very light and compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants.

WATCHMAN comparison
WATCHMAN device

How WATCHMAN Works

WATCHMAN effectively reduces the risk of stroke by permanently closing off the LAA to keep blood clots from escaping. WATCHMAN can eliminate the bleeding risks and regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with warfarin. In a clinical trial, 9 out of 10 people were able to stop taking warfarin just 45 days after the WATCHMAN procedure.5

WATCHMAN data visualization

How is WATCHMAN Implanted?

WATCHMAN is implanted into your heart in a one-time procedure. To implant WATCHMAN, your doctor:

  • Makes a small cut in your upper leg
  • Inserts a narrow tube, as done in a standard stent procedure
  • Then guides WATCHMAN into your heart’s LAA

The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day. 

 

Sources

1. National Stroke Association. Making the Afib-Stroke Connection. https://www.stroke.org/sites/default/files/resources/Afib-Connection%20for%20hcp.pdf. Published 2012. Accessed September 1, 2016.
2. Harvard Health Publications. Atrial fibrillation. http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/atrial-fibrillation-common-serious-treatable. Harvard University Medical School. Published November 2011. Accessed August 25, 2016.
3. 
Blackshear JL, Odell JA. Appendage obliteration to reduce stroke in cardiac surgical patients with atrial fibrillation. Ann Thorac Surg.  1996;61:755-759.
4. 
Cleveland Clinic. Atrial fibrillation (Afib). http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/disorders/arrhythmia/atrial-fibrillation-afib. Published May 2015. Accessed August 25, 2016.
5. 
Holmes DR Jr, Kar S, Price MJ, et al. Prospective randomized evaluation of the Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure device in patients with atrial fibrillation versus long-term warfarin therapy: the PREVAIL trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64(1):1-12.

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