The WATCHMAN 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 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 where blood clots can form and then break off and travel in the blood stream to the brain and cause strokes.
The device is inserted into the heart through a catheter placed into a vein in the leg during a one-time, minimally invasive procedure in a cardiac catheterization lab. 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 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.