The WATCHMAN is a left atrial appendage (LAA) closure device, which is implanted into the LAA to permanently close if off and keep blood clots from escaping. In patients with Atrial Fibrillation or AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, it is proving to effectively reduce risk of stroke.
A one-time procedure, WATCHMAN reduces the risk of stroke in non-valvular AFib (NVAF) patients, while also reducing the long-term risk of bleeding that can come from extended use of warfarin, also known as Coumadin® (blood thinner).
WATCHMAN is the only device of its kind approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for reducing stroke risk in AFib candidates.
The device is inserted via a small tube, or catheter, through a small cut in the patient’s upper leg. It is then guided into the LAA of the heart. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes approximately one hour. Patients typically stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
Following the procedure patients will take warfarin until the LAA is permanently closed off. As heart tissue grows over the implant, a barrier against blood clots is formed. Patients will then follow an aspirin regiment.
Worldwide, more than 50,000 WATCHMAN procedures have been performed, and its effectiveness has been proven in over 10 years of clinical U.S. studies. In one clinical trial, it was implanted successfully in 95% of patients [1,2].
Who is a good candidate for WATCHMAN?
Those patients who may be good candidates for WATCHMAN include:
- People with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem.
- Patients who do not tolerate warfarin, or have serious bleeding concerns.
- Patients who are “out of range” on warfarin.