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WATCHMAN Device and Procedure

Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) Closure Procedure

What is the left atrial appendage? 

The left atrial appendage is a small sac-like extension of the left atrium or upper part of the heart. Atrial fibrillation patients may have blood pool in the left atrial appendage which may cause a blood clot to form and travel throughout the body and possibly cause a stroke. 

Left atrial appendage closure

The WATCHMAN procedure and left atrial appendage closure device is a first-of-its-kind, proven alternative to commonly-used blood thinner warfarin to prevent stoke in patients with atrial fibrillation or an abnormal heart beat. 

The WATCHMAN implant device is about the size of a quarter and shaped like a parachute. It is implanted into the heart to close off the left atrial appendage (LAA), a blind pouch of heart tissue to prevent blood clots from forming and causing a stroke.

The device is inserted into the heart through a catheter placed into a vein in the leg during a one-time, minimally invasive procedure. By closing off the LAA, patient’s risk of stroke is reduced and it may probably over time allow them to stop taking warfarin.

Beaumont's Expertise

Beaumont cardiologists have extensive experience with the device and placed the second device in the United States during clinical trials testing in 2005. The recently published results of these trials showed a 60 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality and a 34 percent reduction in all-cause mortality in patients treated with the device.

The FDA approved the use of device on March 13, 2015. Beaumont cardiologists performed the Midwest’s first commercial implant of the WATCHMAN device on March 25, 2015. Currently, Beaumont provides patients two different implants for closing off the left atrial appendage: Watchman or Amulet.

Are you a candidate for a left atrial appendage closure device?

If you answer yes to the questions below, the left atrial appendage closure device and WATCHMAN procedure may be the right choice for you:

  • Have you ever been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem?
  • Are you currently taking or have you considered taking warfarin or other anticoagulant medication? (sold under brand names of Pradaxa, Eliquis, Xarelto, Savaysa, Jantoven or Coumadin)
  • Do you have a reason (bleeding, lifestyle, occupation or frequent falling) to look for a safe alternative to long-term use of a blood thinner that will provide a comparable reduction in risk of stroke?

If you did answer yes to these questions, you may be a candidate for the WATCHMAN procedure and should consult your Beaumont cardiologist.