Vancouver Clinic, in partnership with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, is the first healthcare provider between Seattle and Sacramento to offer the WATCHMAN™ device implant—the latest advancement in the treatment of atrial fibrillation. For certain patients at risk for stroke due to atrial fibrillation, the WATCHMAN™ provides a viable alternative in stroke prevention to blood thinners.
If you or a loved one suffers from atrial fibrillation, we encourage you to watch the video below to learn more about the WATCHMAN™ device and how it works. A helpful F.A.Q is also provided below to answer questions you may have. Be sure to discuss your specific situation with your doctor as you consider the best options available to reduce your risk of stroke.
What is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition where the upper chambers of your heart (atria) beat too fast and with chaotic rhythm (fibrillation). Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans.
Is atrial fibrillation a serious condition?
Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in an area of your heart called the left atrial appendage. If a blood clot forms, it can travel through an artery to the brain and cause a stroke. Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with this heart condition.
How is atrial fibrillation typically treated?
Until recently, blood thinners, or oral anticoagulants, have been the most widely prescribed treatment for reducing the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Long-term use of blood thinners, such as warfarin, may not be right for everyone. They can result in potentially serious bleeding complications, and many patients are left untreated due to related health concerns.
What is the WATCHMAN™ device?
The WATCHMAN” left atrial appendage closure device offers a new stroke risk reduction option for patients with atrial fibrillation who are seeking an alternative to blood thinners. The device is a one-time implant that acts as a barrier to prevent left atrial appendage blood clots from entering the bloodstream and blocking a blood vessel in the brain resulting in a stroke.
How Does the WATCHMAN™ device work?
The WATCHMAN™ is a self-expanding device that is shaped like a jellyfish. The top of the device is covered with a permeable polyester fabric that acts like a filter initially but becomes covered with a patient’s own cells within 45 days.
What does the procedure to implant the WATCHMAN™ device involve?
The WATCHMAN™ device, which is about the size of a quarter, is inserted via catheter and does not require open-heart surgery. The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia and lasts about an hour. Patients usually return home the day following the procedure.
Has the WATCHMAN™ device procedure proven successful?
According to a 2013 study, more than 90 percent of patients were able to stop taking warfarin medication within 45 days of receiving the WATCHMAN™ implant, and 99 percent stopped within a year.
Who is a good candidate for a WATCHMAN™ implant?
For people who are seeking an alternative to blood thinners, this quarter sized implant is a viable alternative. Patients should consult their doctor to determine whether the WATCHMAN™ device is right for them.
Disclaimer: It is important to know that a stroke can be due to factors not related to a clot traveling to the brain from the left atrial appendage. Other causes of stroke can include high blood pressure and narrowing of the blood vessels to the brain. The WATCHMAN Implant will not prevent these other causes of stroke and does not cure atrial fibrillation.