July 27, 2015
First WATCHMAN devices implanted today
Richmond, Va. (July 27, 2015) – HCA Virginia’s Levinson Heart Institute at Chippenham Hospital is among the first in central Virginia to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (afib) an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant.
Afib is a common heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart beat too fast and with irregular rhythm, potentially leading to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
“The new WATCHMAN implant provides a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation,” said Saumil Shah, M.D., of the Levinson Heart Institute and Virginia Cardiovascular Specialists.
“For patients who are seeking an alternative to warfarin, the WATCHMAN implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.”
For patients with afib who are considered suitable for warfarin – a blood-thinning medication, but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots form entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.
According to Shah, individuals with afib have a five times greater risk of stroke. Afib can cause blood to pool and form clots in the left atrial appendage. For patients with non-valvular afib, 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.
Implanting the WATCHMAN device is a one-time procedure that lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to remain in the hospital for 24 hours.
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 over 70 countries worldwide.