Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia by far, and a risk factor for stroke. Given poor atrial contraction while in atrial fibrillation, the blood pools in the atria and can form a clot, especially in the left atrial appendage, an outpouching of the atria. The vast majority of the clots (thrombus) are formed in the left atrial appendage.
Watchman Device for Stroke Prevention
In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Watchman left atrial appendage closure device for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation.
- The device is approved for reducing the risk of thromboembolism (obstruction of a blood vessel by a blood clot that has become dislodged from another site in the circulation) in high-risk patients with nonvalvular Afib. The device is meant to be an option for high-risk patients seeking an alternative to anticoagulation.
- The Watchman device involves a one-time procedure that reduces your risk of stroke if you have non-valvular atrial fibrillation and reduces the long-term risk of bleeding that comes with long-term of warfarin use.
- The device, which is a tiny umbrella-shaped mesh tool, is implanted in the heart to close off the left atrial appendage — which is the site where harmful blood clots most commonly form. The Watchman prevents these clots from entering the bloodstream, traveling to the brain and causing a stroke, without the bleeding risks that come with anticoagulant medications.
- Implanting the device is a minimally invasive procedure performed under general anesthesia. It only requires 24 hours for recovery.
Candidates for the Watchman Device
We might suggest a Watchman device for you if have:
- A history of major bleeding while taking blood thinners
- A career or lifestyle that increases the risk of major bleeding (as a result of trauma)
- Prior experience of being inadequately controlled on blood thinners