The WATCHMAN is a device for Left Atrial Appendage Closure for Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart arrhythmia worldwide, which affects over 1% of the global population. Therefore, if you have atrial fibrillation, stroke prevention should be a critical part of your treatment plan. Oral blood thinner medications are a common treatment option for atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention, but many patients cannot take these medications.
A diagnosis of AFib does not have to mean a lifetime of taking blood thinner medications. WATCHMAN is a one-time, minimally invasive procedure that reduces stroke risk and bleeding worry for life.
What is the Left Atrial Appendage?
The human heart has four chambers, each responsible for different functions. The left atrium (the left upper chamber) collects freshly oxygenated blood from the pulmonary vein and pumps the blood down into the left ventricle (left lower chamber) to be distributed to the body.
The left atrial appendage is a small sac in the muscle wall of the left atrium. In normal heart function, the blood flows well in this area with each heartbeat.
Due to the impaired rhythm and contractions of the atriums during atrial fibrillation, blood can stay longer in the left atrial appendage. If left untreated, a blood clot will form and cause a stroke. Furthermore, over 90% of atrial fibrillation associated strokes occur due to a blood clot created in the left atrium appendage.
What is a Left Atrial Appendage Closure?
A left atrial appendage closure is a one-time, minimally invasive procedure that helps reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. Firstly, a cardiologist performs this procedure. During the procedure, the Dr. inserts a WATCHMAN closure device into the body through a peripheral vein in the leg. The cardiologist guides the device through the vasculature to the heart chambers. A small hole is created between the right and left atrium, and then they insert the device into the left atrium appendage. Once there, the device opens up like an umbrella and stays permanently implanted into the site.
What are the Benefits?
There are many benefits to a left atrial appendage closure but here is the top two:
✅ It is a highly successful, one-time procedure that can significantly reduce your risk of having a cardiac stroke.
✅ After proper healing from the procedure and clearance by your cardiologist, many patients can come off of their oral or injectable anticoagulant medications. Low-dose oral ASA (Aspirin) is often the only antiplatelet medication required after this procedure.
In conclusion, left atrial appendage closure procedures are a great option to reduce the risk of strokes in many people with atrial fibrillation who cannot take blood thinners.
Meet Dr. Alireza Nazeri
Dr. Nazeri is a cardiac electrophysiologist at Mobitz Heart and Rhythm Center. In conclusion, if you have AFib and are taking blood thinners, you may be a candidate for the WATCHMAN procedure. So, for more information about the left atrial appendage closure procedure and your candidacy, you can consult with Dr. Nazeri. Please visit us at www.MobitzHeart.com