WATCHMAN: An Alternative Treatment to Blood Thinners


Atrial fibrillation causes your heart to beat irregularly, which affects its ability to pump blood normally. When the heart doesn’t pump as it should, blood can collect and form clots. If a clot escapes, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain—causing a stroke.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), individuals with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke. Strokes that are caused by complications from AFib tend to be more severe than strokes with underlying causes. Non-valvular AFib can mean a lifetime of blood thinners. It can also mean a lifetime of worry about bleeds from falls, other medical issues, or an unexpected surgery.

Riverside Heart & Vascular Institute can offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib) an alternative to a lifetime dependency on blood thinners –the WATCHMAN implant.

WATCHMAN is implanted into your heart in a one-time procedure. It is a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body.

To implant WATCHMAN, your doctor makes a small cut in your upper leg and inserts a narrow tube, as done in a standard stent procedure. Your doctor then guides WATCHMAN into the left atrial appendage of your heart. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.

The WATCHMAN Implant may be a life-changing alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for those who need one. In a one-time procedure, the WATCHMAN Implant effectively reduces the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem.

You could be a candidate for a WATCHMAN procedure if you have atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart valve problem and if a doctor has recommended you take blood thinners for your AFib and you are looking for an alternative to blood thinners because you:
•have a history of serious bleeding while taking blood thinners;
•you have an occupation or lifestyle that puts you at risk for serious bleeding;
•or you have difficulties taking blood thinners as prescribed.

To learn more about this and other heart-health services at Riverside Healthcare, please visit Riverside Heart & Vascular Institute