Cardiologists at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, California, performed the hospital’s first implant of the Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure device on a patient with atrial fibrillation (AFib).
The hospital is the first between Sacramento and Fresno to offer the Watchman device as an alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin (blood thinners) for people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular atrial fibrillation). Patients no longer need to travel to surrounding areas to have this procedure.
An estimated five million Americans are impacted by AFib, which is an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. People with AFib have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms.
The Watchman device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.
“The Watchman device is a novel alternative for patients with non-valvular AFib at risk for stroke, especially those with a compelling reason where they cannot be on blood thinner medication,” said Dr. Navneet Dullet, Cardiologist at the Valley Heart Institute of Doctors Medical Center. “I am so pleased we are now performing this procedure at Doctors Medical Center as it offers another potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment.”
The Watchman device is implanted 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. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
“Patients with atrial fibrillation are at significant risk of stroke, which can have a serious emotional and psychological impact on them,” said Dr. Talwinderdeep Kahlon, Interventional Cardiologist at the Valley Heart Institute of Doctors Medical Center. “It is important for them to be aware of and understand recent medical advances and treatments that can help with stroke prevention.”
Photo Caption: Watchman cardiology team at Doctors Medical Center.