Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet (PSJMC-J) 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. WATCHMAN Device helps reduce stroke risk, stop use of blood thinners in patients with atrial fibrillation
“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 almost painless. The procedure is as straight forward as putting in a stent. And the Watchman isn’t big at all, the size of a quarter. We will do the procedures in our electro physiology lab. After the procedure, the patient is monitored in the hospital overnight then sent home the next day. We actually do much more complicated procedures than this one. 95-year-old patients have had the procedure and it’s fine.”
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.
WATCHMAN™ Device implants are regularly performed at PSJMC. 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.
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center’s Medical Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology
Dr. Ahmad Abdul Karim with the Watchman device. This implant offers patients with atrial
fibrillation a minimally invasive option to reduce the risk of stroke.
About Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center- Joliet
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center is a regional referral center recognized for overall Clinical Excellence. Recently named a national “Top 50 Hospital” by Healthgrades, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center serves Will and surrounding counties, including the southwest Chicago suburbs, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center offers private patient rooms and world-class health care. Designated as a Primary Stroke Center, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center’s Neuroscience Institute also provides 24/7 neurosurgeons, neurologists and neurointerventionalists. Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center has also been recognized nationally for advanced cardiac care including a world-class open heart program, family-centered obstetrics, and a Level II Trauma Center.
About Presence Health
Created in November 2011, Presence Health is the largest Catholic health system based in Illinois. With over 150 sites of care, including 12 hospitals Presence health has 20,000 employees, 4,000 medical professionals and a revenue base of $2.6 billion.