WATCHMAN™ offers an alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib).
What are the benefits of WATCHMAN™?
This permanent heart implant effectively reduces the risk of stroke—without the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of warfarin (the most common blood thinner). What’s more, WATCHMAN™ can eliminate the regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with warfarin. (Warfarin is also known as Coumadin®.) In a clinical trial, 9 out of 10 people were able to stop taking warfarin just 45 days after the WATCHMAN™ procedure.
In people with atrial fibrillation, blood clots most commonly form in a part of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). Closing the LAA is an effective way to reduce the risk of stroke in people with AFib not caused by heart valve problems. WATCHMAN is the only implant approved by the FDA to do exactly this. Studies have shown that WATCHMAN effectively reduces the risk of a stroke, as well as the bleeding risks associated with long-term use of blood thinners.
The WATCHMAN™ procedure
WATCHMAN™ is implanted into your heart in a one-time procedure. It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body.
To implant WATCHMAN™, your doctor makes a small cut in your upper leg and inserts a narrow tube, as done in a standard stent procedure. Your doctor then guides WATCHMAN™ into the left atrial appendage (LAA) of your heart. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
Due to the risk of having a medical procedure, patients should not be considered for WATCHMAN™ if they are doing well and expect to continue doing well on blood thinners.