Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center Addresses Need of Growing Population of At-Stroke-Risk Patients by Introducing WATCHMAN™ Device Procedure
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center now offers patients with abnormal heart rhythm – or atrial fibrillation (Afib) - a minimally invasive option to reduce the risk of stroke, the WATCHMAN™ Device. The WATCHMAN™ Device not only reduces the risk of stroke, in many cases it eliminates need for blood thinners in patients with Afib.
Traditionally, patients with Afib are treated with blood thinners such as Warfarin and Coumadin. These drugs reduce the likelihood of experiencing potentially dangerous blood clots within the heart and stroke. Blood thinners however can increase the risk of bleeding strokes, or brain strokes (hemorrhage strokes), as well as possibly cause calcium build-up in the arteries. The calcium build-up can narrow the aortic valve that helps the flow of blood, and therefore reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach body tissues.
In a procedure that lasts ninety-minutes under anesthesia, the WATCHMAN™ Device is inserted through a catheter in the groin area. It is then implanted in the heart to close off the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA), the most common site where harmful blood clots form in patients with Afib. The small device then prevents clots from entering the bloodstream, where they might otherwise travel to the brain, causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke can be reduced. Over time, heart tissue grows over the WATCHMAN™ Device implant, permanently sealing off the LAA. Most patients with the WATCHMAN™ Device will be able to discontinue using blood thinners after 45 days.
“This is so much better because the clinical trial proved the WATCHMAN™ Device superior to drug therapy, such as Coumadin and others. Originally, it was trialed to see if it was effective as Coumadin, it turns out it was better than Coumadin in prevention of stroke. It also significantly reduces the long term complications that happen with anti-coagulants,” said Ahmad Abdul-Karim, MD, Cardiac Electrophysiology Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center. Regarding the procedure itself Dr. Abdul-Karim added, “The procedure is basically painless and completed in two hours. The device isn’t big at all, the size of a quarter. We will perform the procedure in our electrophysiology lab. After the procedure, the patient is monitored in the hospital overnight then sent home the next day. We are one of a few Medical Centers in the U.S. to offer this procedure.”
Introduction of this procedure is partially in response to the rapidly increasing number of Americans - from 5 million to 12 million nationally by 2050 - who will experience Afib.
While the procedure will eventually be performed on an outpatient basis, until further FDA approval patients will need to stay overnight in the hospital post-procedure.
For more information please contact 815.725.7133 or visit www.presencehealth.org/stjoseph-joliet.