Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat and is one of the leading risk factors for stroke. Irregular heartbeat can cause blood to collect in the left atrial appendage and potentially form a clot, which can travel to a person’s brain and cause a stroke. The left atrial appendage is the part of the heart where most blood clots that cause strokes originate in patients with atrial fibrillation. The WATCHMAN™ Device is a new technology that allows patients an alternative way to prevent strokes if they have atrial fibrillation and are unable to tolerate long-term use of blood thinners due to bleeding issues. This device is an implant that is placed in the heart to seal off the opening of the left atrial appendage in order to prevent strokes.
The WATCHMAN™ Device implantation is done in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, where the device is placed through a catheter (tube) into the atrial appendage under ultrasound and x-ray imaging and is released into place. This procedure usually takes one to two hours and is done under anesthesia, but is not an open chest or open heart surgery. The patients who take blood thinners usually stop taking them around 45 days post-procedure. Patients who have had this procedure at Oklahoma Heart Institute have been very pleased with the procedure and outcomes. To learn more about the WATCHMAN™ Device, watch our team perform their first WATCHMAN™ Device procedure below: