Baptist Health offers patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation an alternative to anticoagulants with the WATCHMAN device. WATCHMAN is a permanent implant that works by closing off the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep blood clots from escaping. This device effectively reduces the risks of stroke and bleeding associated with the long-term use of blood thinners.
Who qualifies for the WATCHMAN device?
Your doctor may recommend a WATCHMAN device if you:
- Are at increased risk of stroke
- Have atrial fibrillation not related to heart valve disease
- Are seeking an alternative to medications
- Qualify for warfarin (Coumadin) therapy
WATCHMAN may not be recommended if you:
- Are unable to withstand heart catheterization
- Are allergic to nickel, titanium, or any other material used in the device
- Have an abnormally sized left atrial appendage that cannot fit the device
What happens during the procedure?
During the procedure, your doctor will administer a general anesthetic to ensure you stay comfortable and pain-free during the implantation process. Your doctor will then make a small incision in your upper leg. A narrow tube, or catheter, will be inserted into the incision, and the WATCHMAN device will be guided to the heart’s LAA. After the device is implanted, cells from the inside lining of the heart will gradually cover the device. The seal closes off the appendage so that the blood is unable to clot on the inside. Implantation of the WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure that usually takes about an hour to complete. Patients receiving treatment should plan to stay overnight at the hospital following the procedure.
As with all medical procedures, there are risks associated with the implantation and use of the device. Infection at the catheter insertion site is possible. However, your healthcare team will monitor the area to ensure proper healing. It is also possible that the left atrial appendage is damaged once the device is deployed. This complication is infrequent. Be sure to talk with your doctor to thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the implantation of the WATCHMAN Device.