WATCHMAN LAAC Implant an Alternative to Long-Term Warfarin Medication
BRIGHTON – Sept. 26, 2016 - St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center’s Division of Cardiology began offering a new treatment this week for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) called the Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant, an alternative to long-term warfarin medication that is designed to help reduce the risk of stroke in patients with AF.
For patients with atrial fibrillation who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the Watchman LAAC is an implant alternative to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke. Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart beat too fast and with irregular rhythm. It is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and affects approximately 5 million people in the U.S. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication. Despite its proven efficacy, however, long-term use of the medication is not well tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications.
The Watchman device, which is roughly the size of a quarter, closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced, and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.
“Patients with atrial fibrillation are at a greater risk for stroke,” says Joseph Carrozza, MD, Chief of the Division of Cardiology at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Vice President of the Steward Cardiovascular Network. “The Watchman implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk reduction treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.”
The Watchman LAAC Implant, at this time, is only available in the Steward network at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center. Dr. Carrozza and his colleague, John Wylie, MD, Director of Electrophysiology for Steward, are performing the procedures.
Implanting the Watchman Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.
“The ability to offer patients this new procedure is a wonderful advancement in the treatment of atrial fibrillation,” says Dr. Wylie. “We continually look to help our patients improve the quality of their lives through the use of technology and this is an exciting new treatment that we can offer to those who are suitable candidates for this treatment.”
For more information call Dr. Carrozza at 617-789-5027 or Dr. Wylie at 617-789-3718 or visit www.semc.org/cardiac
About St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center is a major academic medical center affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine. Areas of medical excellence include vascular and endovascular surgery, cardiology, neurosciences, general and robotic surgery, bariatric surgery, women’s health, high-risk obstetrics, bone and joint health, hematology/oncology, pulmonary medicine and emergency medicine. St. Elizabeth’s is a member of Steward Health Care, which is the second largest health care system in New England. Visit St. Elizabeth’s online at www.semc.org.