Baptist Health-Fort Smith Cardiologist First to Use New Implant to Reduce Stroke Risk in AF Patients

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Hussam Hawamdeh, MD, a structural cardiologist at Baptist Health-Fort Smith, recently performed the region’s first patient implant of the new WATCHMAN FLX™ Pro Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) device. Baptist Health-Fort Smith is the only hospital in the River Valley to offer the latest LAAC technology designed to reduce stroke risk and serve as an alternative to lifelong use of blood thinners for people with atrial fibrillation (AF) not caused by a heart valve problem. 

An estimated 7 million Americans are affected by AF, or an irregular heartbeat that can feel like a quivering heart. People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms.The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning medication. Blood thinners increase the risk of serious bleeding over time and come with certain requirements and restrictions. Dr. Hawamdeh first began implanting the WATCHMAN FLX ™ in February of last year and saw much success with his patients. 

“The new WATCHMAN FLX ™ Pro is not only the latest-generation device, it’s an opportunity to greatly improve a patient’s quality of life as it allows them not to be limited in their activities like the use of blood thinners,” said Dr. Hawamdeh. “With this device, we can also treat a broader range of patients in our community.”  

May is American Stroke Month and serves as a time to educate patients on ways to reduce their risk of stroke, including maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure through diet and exercise, as well as controlling diabetes and not smoking. 

Dr. Hawamdeh earned his medical degree from the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan. He later went on to complete a residency in internal medicine and fellowship in cardiovascular disease at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He also completed fellowships in both interventional cardiology and structural cardiology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. 

For more on the services Dr. Hawamdeh provides, visit or call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST

About Baptist Health

For more than a century, Baptist Health has delivered all our best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health, Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization, is here For You. For Life. – with more than 250 points of access that include 12 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; and a graduate residency program. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app