Watchman Device at Drexel Medicine
The WATCHMAN™ LAA Closure Device is designed to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. The device prevents blood clots from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing stroke, and offers an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with atrial fibrillation.
At Drexel Cardiology, we screen all qualified patients with an echocardiogram test, implant the device in approved patients through a minimally invasive procedure, and provide follow-up care. To learn more about the Watchman device, please call 215.762.1697 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke
Atrial fibrillation affects 2.7 million Americans, making it the most common type of irregular heartbeat. When the heart beats irregularly it does not effectively move all the blood through the heart chambers. This can cause blood to pool and form a clot.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. This can be the result of a blockage in one of the blood vessels leading to the brain or by a bleed in the brain. In the case of ischemic stroke, which accounts for about 87% of all strokes, the blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot. Blood clots travel to the brain from somewhere in the body (usually the heart) and find a vessel small enough to block the passage of blood, resulting in stroke.
Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke by four to six times on average. To reduce the risk of stroke, patients are often prescribed blood-thinning drugs, which help prevent clots. Common signs of atrial fibrillation include palpitations (rapid, fluttering, or pounding), shortness of breath, chest pain and fatigue. It is also possible not to experience any symptoms and still have atrial fibrillation. This is why regular checkups with your primary care physician are so important.
How the Watchman Device Works
More than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the left atrial appendage, a small, sleeve-like blind pouch connected to the left atrium. In patients with atrial fibrillation, the appendage can act as a pool for blood to collect and form clots.
The Watchman device is a permanent implant that blocks off the left atrial appendage from the rest of the heart to keep possible blood clots from escaping. The device is deployed through catheter during a minimally invasive procedure. Over a period of several weeks, the “skin” of the heart grows over the device and seals the appendage. Once the appendage is sealed, clots can no longer form there. This one-time procedure can reduce the risk of stroke without the use of blood thinners.
After the procedure, you may have to continue taking blood thinners while the area heals or until your doctor advises you to reduce or eliminate your medication.
Am I eligible for the Watchman Device?
To be considered for the Watchman device, you must meet several requirements. The device, which is designed to help patients reduce and/or eliminate the use of blood thinners, proves most successful in patients who have:
- Been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation
- A moderate to severe risk of stroke
- A left atrial appendage that's shape is compatible with the device (tested with echocardiogram)
- Been unable or unwilling to take blood thinners
Blood-thinning drugs are often prescribed to patients with atrial fibrillation. For patients with atrial fibrillation who have a low to moderate risk of stroke, this can be an effective treatment method. However, blood thinners should be prescribed on a case-by-case basis. Some individuals have coexisting medical conditions that prevent them from taking blood thinners. Others may not feel comfortable taking blood thinners due to an active lifestyle. These are topics you should discuss with your doctor if you're interested in the Watchman device. Together, you and your doctor will decide the best treatment plan for you.
Our team of cardiologists has been certified in the Watchman procedure, and they're experts at treating atrial fibrillation and stroke.
219 N. Broad Street
The Arnold T. Berman, MD Building, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
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1203 Langhorne-Newtown Road, Suite 320
Langhorne, PA 19047
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The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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