The WATCHMAN™ Implant: What You Need to Know
Thursday, May 21, 2020
The WATCHMAN™ Implant: 10 Questions Answered
The WATCHMAN Implant can reduce your risk of stroke and eliminate your use of blood thinners if you have atrial fibrillation (AFib) not caused by a heart valve problem.
1. What is AFib?
It is a common type of heart arrhythmia that causes the heart to beat irregularly. It occurs when upper chambers of the heart (right and left atria) no longer contract in coordination.
2. What are the symptoms?
This can occur without symptoms or may make you feel tired, lightheaded, short of breath or a fluttering sensation in your chest.
3. Is AFib dangerous?
When your heart beats irregularly with AFib, it can lead to blood clots, especially in the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart. In this scenario, you are five times more likely to have a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat. Although blood thinners can reduce your risk of stroke, medications create other dangers, including bleeding. Other factors that increase stroke risk include ages 75 and up, high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and prior stroke.
4. How does WATCHMAN help?
The WATCHMAN Implant prevents blood clots in the LAA by closing it. The LAA is where 90% of stroke-causing blood clots come from in the heart.
5. Is WATCHMAN safe?
Over 100,000 people worldwide have received the WATCHMAN Implant. It is the only implant of its kind approved by the FDA. With all medical procedures, there are risks associated with the implant procedure and the use of the device. Talk to your doctor, so you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the WATCHMAN Implant.
6. What are typical results?
You may be able to stop using blood thinners 45 days after your implant. After one year, 99% of patients discontinued using blood thinners.
7. What happens during the procedure?
During this one-time, minimally invasive procedure, a narrow tube is inserted into a blood vessel in your upper leg and goes to your LAA. The WATCHMAN is inserted through the tube until it reaches the LAA, where it unfolds like an umbrella. A thin layer of tissue will grow over the surface of the implant within about 45 days.
General anesthesia is used, so you are asleep during the procedure.
8. How long will I be in the hospital?
You will likely return home the day after the procedure.
9. What happens after the procedure?
Your follow-up appointment will be approximately 45 days after your procedure. At this time, your physician will check if tissue has adequately covered the WATCHMAN Implant. If so, you may be able to stop taking blood thinners. If not, you will have a follow-up appointment scheduled as necessary to monitor the progress.
10. Who performs the procedure?
Make an appointment
Talk to your doctor to determine if the WATCHMAN Implant is right for you.