Fawcett Memorial Hospital now offers a newer treatment option to reduce the risk of stroke called the WATCHMAN™ procedure. This left atrial appendage closure implant procedure is a new stroke risk reduction option for certain patients with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem. It is a permanent implant that effectively reduces the risk of stroke without the risk of bleeding that can come with long-term use of blood-thinning medications. WATCHMAN™ offers an alternative to the lifelong use of blood-thinning medications and can eliminate the regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with them. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a common form of arrhythmia, a condition in which the heart beats out of rhythm. By itself, Afib is usually not life-threatening and can often be successfully managed. For many people, the most dangerous aspect of Afib is its link to stroke. During an Afib episode, blood can collect inside the small portion of the heart known as the left atrial appendage (LAA). If a blood clot forms and then escapes from the LAA, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. This is why most people who have Afib take blood-thinning medications that prevent blood clots. For patients who have trouble on these medications, left atrial appendage closure procedures such as WATCHMAN™ are a newer treatment option that prevents blood and blood clots from traveling into and out of the LAA.
Cardiologists Dr. Jeffrey Brumfield and Dr. Nicolai Mejevoi, along with Fawcett's Cardiac Cath Lab team performed Fawcett's first WATCHMAN™ procedure in October. "Many patients and their doctors have to choose between two poor options: accepting the risk of anticoagulant medications or accepting the risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation. This procedure allows us to offer a third option, the WATCHMAN™ device, which reduces the risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation without increasing the risk of bleeding from anticoagulant medications," said Brumfield, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist.
Fawcett Memorial Hospital is thrilled to offer this procedure to our community! For more information on treatment of atrial fibrillation and the WATCHMAN™ procedure or for a physician referral, please contact Fawcett Memorial Hospital's Consult-A-Nurse line at (941) 624-4441.