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The Watchman™ device is a permanent implant — shaped like a tiny parachute — that is inserted into the heart to prevent strokes in patients who have an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation). The device can be used as an alternative to blood thinners and has been proven to reduce the risk of a stroke.
The Watchman Device: How it Works
The Watchman device is inserted under general anesthesia and requires the patient to stay in the hospital overnight. The implant is inserted with a catheter into the atrial appendage, a thumb-shaped sac in the muscle wall of the top left chamber of the heart. The catheter is removed once the device is in place.
Inside, the device is opened up like an umbrella. The heart tissue grows over the device’s curved surface, which blocks the entrance eliminating the chamber where blood clots could form and be released. The release of the clots is what can cause a stroke. Patients will need to be on blood thinners while the heart tissue grows over the device, which typically takes a few weeks.
Because the procedure only requires doctors to make a small incision, it is recommended the patient take it easy for 2 weeks to let the groin heal up completely.
The Watchman device can be implanted into patients who have the following conditions:
- Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib), also called irregular heartbeat, one of the most common types of heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmia) when the upper chambers of the heart fail to beat in a synchronized manner.
- Heart Valve Disease (valvular heart disease), a disorder that occurs when your heart valves don’t work properly.
- High Blood pressure or hypertension, when your blood pressure is high and starts to damage the blood vessels, heart, and kidneys.
- People at risk for stroke.
- People who have a hard time tolerating blood thinners for a long period of time.
Preparing for Your Treatment
Patients who are planning to have the Watchman implant, need to be on blood thinning medication prior to surgery so that blood clots are less likely to form. Talk with your doctor if you think you are a candidate for the Watchman device.
How We Compare
Our heart surgeons and cardiologists provide some of the highest quality care available using the latest research to direct their treatment.
View our Heart & Vascular Quality Reports to see the latest clinical data.
Related Treatments or Tests
Patients who are at risk for stroke and are considering heart surgery or the Watchman device, may need imaging tests such as Transasogeal echocardiography (TEE), a test that produces pictures of your heart and the arteries leading to and from it, using sound waves (ultrasound).
The University of Vermont is participating in a clinical trial on another device similar to the Watchman, called Amulet. Visit clinicalstrials.gov to find out more information or contact Clinical Trials and Research at the UVM Medical Center at 802-656-8990.
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