Kingwood Medical Center is the first hospital in Northeast Houston to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant.
For patients with atrial fibrillation who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians, but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN LAAC Implant is an alternative to reduce their risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke. The WATCHMAN Implant is designed to close off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream 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.
People with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in the LAA. For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots. If a clot forms in the LAA, it can increase one’s risk of having a stroke. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs and other parts of the body.
“The new WATCHMAN LAAC Implant provides physicians with a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation,” said James Strickland, MD, at Kingwood Medical Center. “For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who are seeking an alternative to warfarin and other blood thinner medications, the WATCHMAN Implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term wayfaring therapy,” said Percy F. Morales, MD.
Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.
About Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with atrial fibrillation, and atrial fibrillation-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation is blood-thinning medication called warfarin. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of atrial fibrillation patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.
The WATCHMAN Implant is designed to close the LAA in order to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke for higher risk patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. The WATCHMAN Implant has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world. For more information on the WATCHMAN Implant, visitwatchmanimplant.com.