How WATCHMAN Works
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation (sometimes called AFib or AF) is a common heart condition that affects more than five million Americans1 and can increase your risk for stroke. AFib happens when the top two chambers of the heart, the atria, beat too fast and with an irregular rhythm (fibrillation).
AFib can decrease the heart’s pumping capacity, which can cause blood cells to pool and stick together, forming clots in a small pouch on the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). If a clot escapes from the LAA and gets into your arteries, it may block the blood supply to your brain and cause a stroke.
How Does WATCHMAN Work?
The WATCHMAN Procedure
The WATCHMAN procedure is performed under general anesthesia and doesn’t require open-heart surgery. To implant WATCHMAN, your doctor will insert a narrow tube called a catheter into a vein in your upper leg, similar to a stent procedure. Then, he or she will place WATCHMAN into the LAA using x-rays and echocardiograms as a guide.
After the procedure, the WATCHMAN Implant is the only material that will remain in your body. A thin layer of tissue will grow over the surface of the Implant. In a clinical trial, 9 out of 10 people were able to stop taking warfarin just 45 days after the WATCHMAN procedure.3
WATCHMAN Important Safety Information
The WATCHMAN Device is a permanent implant designed to close the left atrial appendage in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke.
With all medical procedures there are risks associated with the implant procedure and the use of the device. The risks include but are not limited to accidental heart puncture, air embolism, allergic reaction, anemia, anesthesia risks, arrhythmias, AV (Arteriovenous) fistula, bleeding or throat pain from the TEE (Trans Esophageal Echo) probe, blood clot or air bubbles in the lungs or other organs, bruising at the catheter insertion site, clot formation on the WATCHMAN? Closure Device, cranial bleed, excessive bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, groin puncture bleed, hypotension, infection/pneumonia, pneumothorax, pulmonary edema, pulmonary vein obstruction, renal failure, stroke, thrombosis and transient ischemic attack. In rare cases death can occur.
Be sure to talk with your doctor so that you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the implantation of the WATCHMAN Device.
Resources and Support
1. Colilla et al. Am J Cardiology, 2013; 112:1142-1147.
2. Blackshear JL, Odell JA. Appendage obliteration to reduce stroke in cardiac surgical patients with atrial fibrillation. Ann Thorac Surg. 1996;61:755-759.
3. Holmes DR Jr, Kar S, Price MJ, et al. Prospective randomized evaluation of the Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure device in patients with atrial fibrillation versus long-term warfarin therapy: the PREVAIL trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64(1):1-12.