Watchman Device: Left Atrial Appendage Closure for Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation
Left atrial appendage closure with the Watchman® device is an alternative for stroke prevention in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib) taking oral anticoagulation therapy to reduce the risk of thromboembolism (clot forming in a blood vessel) from the left atrial appendage (LAA), and most importantly, to reduce bleeding complications while on oral anticoagulation. In clinical trials and outcomes post market release, this FDA-approved, non-pharmacologic approach for stroke prevention has shown positive benefits over warfarin.
The LAA originates in the left atrium of the heart and is where over 90 percent of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed. The Watchman device is a catheter-delivered heart implant designed to close the LAA. The Watchman device is permanently implanted at or slightly distal to the ostium (opening) of the LAA. By closing off the LAA to prevent the migration of blood clots from the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced, and over time, patients may be able to stop taking anticoagulants.
Ideal Candidates for the Watchman Device
The Watchman device is indicated for Afib patients that could benefit from an alternative treatment including:
- Those with a history of major bleeding while taking therapeutic anticoagulation therapy
- A patient's prior experience with oral anticoagulation (if applicable)
- A medical condition, occupation or lifestyle placing a patient at high risk of major bleeding secondary to trauma
Patient must be suitable for short-term warfarin, but deemed unable to take long-term oral anticoagulation.
Safety and Benefits
- Left atrial appendage closure is a less invasive procedure compared to open heart surgery and is performed under general anesthesia.
- Over 30,000 people worldwide have received a Watchman device and it is the only FDA-approved implant of its kind.
- Recovery from left atrial appendage closure is faster than from open heart surgery, and patients may go home 24 to 48 hours post-procedure.
- Left atrial appendage closure may lower the risk of stroke in AFib patients, ultimately improving the patient's quality of life.
UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute offers internationally recognized expertise in performing left atrial appendage closure with the Watchman device. UH physicians were chosen as the first in the U.S. to be involved in initial research of this procedure.