The Watchman™ is a treatment option for atrial fibrillation (AFib) that helps prevent stroke in patients who cannot take blood-thinning medications due to bleeding complications. A fabric-covered device shaped like a parachute, The Watchman™ is a permanent heart implant that expands to close the opening of the left atrial appendage (LAA) — the site where most harmful blood clots form in AFib patients. By closing off the LAA, The Watchman™ prevents blood clots from forming and leaving the heart, thus reducing risk of stroke.
Doylestown Health cardiologists currently offer this minimally invasive procedure and are highly skilled in the techniques to implant this advanced device.
Who is a Candidate for The Watchman™ Implant?
You may be a candidate if you:
- Have AFib that is not related to heart valve disease (non-valvular atrial fibrillation)
- Are at increased risk for a stroke
- Are recommended for blood-thinning medicines
- Are suitable for warfarin (a blood thinner also known as Coumadin®)
- Have an appropriate reason to seek a non-drug alternative to warfarin, such as bleeding while on blood-thinning medications or having strokes or mini strokes while on blood-thinning medication
How is The Watchman™ Procedure Performed?
Using a minimally invasive approach, the doctor places an IV in your upper leg, inserts a flexible tube (catheter) into your vein, and guides The Watchman™ device into the heart. Then, the doctor puts the device in place and releases the implant to permanently seal off your LAA. Over time, heart tissue grows over the implant.
The Watchman™: Preventing Stroke in AFib Patients Video
How Long Will I Stay in the Hospital?
The Watchman™ implant does not require open-heart surgery and is typically performed under general anesthesia. The procedure lasts approximately one hour. Most patients stay in the hospital overnight and recovery takes about 24 hours.
When Can I Stop Taking Blood Thinners?
After The Watchman™ is implanted, to reduce your risk of stroke you will continue taking warfarin until enough heart tissue grows over the implant to permanently close off your LAA from the rest of your heart. The doctor will monitor this tissue growth by taking pictures of your heart using a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). Once the implant has closed off your LAA, you can stop taking blood thinners. In most cases, patients stop taking blood thinners 45 days after the procedure.
Cardiologists Performing Watchman™ Implants