WATCHMAN Device Implantation
What is the WATCHMAN Device?
The WATCHMAN FLX device is a permanent heart implant, about the size of a quarter, that can effectively reduce the risk of a stroke. The WATCHMAN implant is often used as an alternative to warfarin, a common blood-thinning medication that can come with some negative side effects and restrictions with long-term use. The WATCHMAN device is surgically implanted during a one-time procedure and will never need replacing.
When is a WATCHMAN Device Needed?
WATCHMAN device implantation is performed in order to prevent a stroke, most commonly caused by atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, prevents the heart from pumping the blood effectively, resulting in a pool of blood in one area of the heart. This almost always happens in the left atrial appendage (LAA) where the blood cells then clot. This clot can then escape from the heart and travel to other areas of the body, resulting in a lack of blood to the brain, eventually causing a stroke.
The WATCHMAN device works by closing off the LAA where blood clots form, reducing the risk of a stroke. WATCHMAN FLX is FDA-approved as a left atrial appendage closure device to prevent thromboembolism, or a blood clot.
When is a WATCHMAN Device Implantation Needed?
The WATCHMAN procedure is an effective alternative to warfarin. Warfarin is a blood thinner that works to prevent blood clots, therefore reducing the risk of a stroke. Blood thinners like warfarin are effective, but with long-term use can result in bleeding problems especially if a patient has a history of:
- Uncontrolled blood pressure
- Stomach ulcers
- Kidney problems
- Liver disease
- An increased risk of falls
In these cases, the WATCHMAN closure device offers an effective, safe alternative to medication to prevent stroke-causing blood clots. The WATCHMAN device can also be chosen because of personal preference, eliminating the need to remember medication and the dietary restrictions that come with it.
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How is a WATCHMAN Device Implantation Performed?
The WATCHMAN device implantation is a minimally invasive procedure, but patients may be sedated or put under general anesthesia first to ensure their comfort. A small incision is then made over a blood vessel in the groin where a catheter will be inserted and guided to the heart. The device will then be placed in the opening of the LAA to close it off, preventing blood clots from traveling to the rest of the body.
What are the Next Steps After WATCHMAN Device Implantation?
After your WATCHMAN implantation procedure, you will be moved to a recovery room to be monitored until your anesthesia wears off. You may feel some soreness at the insertion location. You will likely still need some type of medication for about 6 months after the WATCHMAN device is inserted. You will then have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Beshai to ensure that the device is working effectively.
Scheduling Your WATCHMAN Device Implantation Appointment
Dr. Beshai offers the WATCHMAN device to atrial fibrillation patients as an effective alternative to medications like warfarin. The WATCHMAN device is highly successful at lowering a person’s stroke risk. To learn more about the WATCHMAN device implantation, and to find out if it’s right for you, contact our office and schedule your specialty appointment at the Heart Rhythm Institute of Arizona.
The Heart Institute of Arizona has a wide array of services that come with our premium care. From in-office dianostics and treatable conditions, to hospital based procedures, we’ve got your heart covered.
Dr. Beshai is a board-certified electrophysiologist internationally renowned and respected for his expertise and research. Having published in major medical journals and travelled all over the world to present research, he is dedicated to providing innovative, state-of-the-art care to his patients.