Do you have atrial fibrillation (AFib) not caused by a valve problem? You might be a candidate for WATCHMAN, a one-time procedure that may allow you to stop taking blood thinners.
Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular offers the WATCHMAN implant for patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AFib) who want to reduce their risk of stroke without taking blood thinners. Our doctors implant the device during a one-time catheter-based procedure. Then the device closes the left atrial appendage (LAA) where most AFib-related clots form.
A one-time procedure with a lifetime of benefits
Many people with AFib face a lifetime of taking blood thinning medication like warfarin. Often patients don’t like taking blood thinners for several reasons, including:
- Increased risk of bleeding, both in general and because of cherished hobbies and careers.
- Having to have blood drawn regularly to check if they’re taking the right amount of medication.
- Struggling to maintain the right clotting time while on the blood thinners.
- Limiting certain foods that have vitamin K.
Because the WATCHMAN device permanently closes the LAA, 96% of patients are able to stop taking blood thinners 45 days after the procedure. Hear from WATCHMAN patients how it has changed their lives.
How the WATCHMAN procedure works
Our doctors insert the WATCHMAN device using a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure. The procedure takes place in just a few steps:
- The patient is put under general anesthesia.
- A narrow tube is inserted through a small cut in the patient’s upper leg.
- Using the tube, the doctor guides the device to the LAA.
- Over time, heart tissue grows over the device and fully closes the LAA so clots can’t form there.
The procedure takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
Learn more about the WATCHMAN implant and procedure through this video:
Candidates for WATCHMAN
If you have atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem and you’re looking for an alternative to blood thinners, it’s important to talk to your cardiologist about your options. Your cardiologist has the special knowledge needed to help you decide if WATCHMAN is right for you. If you don’t have a cardiologist, your primary care physician can refer you to one at Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular.
WATCHMAN is covered for eligible Medicare patients who meet certain national coverage criteria. An increasing number of commercial insurers also cover WATCHMAN. Your cardiologist’s office may be able to help you find out what your coverage is.
WATCHMAN is different from blood thinners not only in how it works, but in how much it costs. Blood thinners must be taken every day for life and represents an ongoing cost. Because WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure and one-time cost, it can save you money over time.
If you have a history of bleeding or a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for bleeding, WATCHMAN may be right for you. But like any medical procedure, WATCHMAN comes with risks. It isn’t right for everyone. Your cardiologist will weigh your risk of a stroke against your risk of a serious bleeding problem to determine the right treatment for you.
The first step to finding out if you’re a candidate for WATCHMAN is making an appointment with a Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular cardiologist to discuss your options. Ask your primary care provider for a referral or call us at 503-257-0959.