What is the WATCHMAN Device?
WATCHMAN offers an alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib).
This permanent heart implant effectively reduces the risk of stroke—without the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of warfarin (the most common blood thinner).1,2 What’s more, WATCHMAN can eliminate the regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with warfarin. (Warfarin is also known as Coumadin®.)
In a clinical trial, 9 out of 10 people were able to stop taking warfarin just 45 days after the WATCHMAN procedure.1
How WATCHMAN Works
To understand how WATCHMAN works, it helps to know more about the connection between atrial fibrillation and stroke.
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, affects your heart’s ability to pump blood normally. This can cause blood to pool in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage, or LAA. There, blood cells can stick together and form a clot. When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.3,4
In people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, more than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA.3 That’s why closing off this part of the heart is an effective way to reduce stroke risk.
The WATCHMAN Implant fits right into your LAA. It’s designed to permanently close it off and keep those blood clots from escaping. WATCHMAN is about the size of a quarter and made from very light and compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants.
The WATCHMAN Procedure
WATCHMAN is implanted into your heart in a one-time procedure. It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body.
To implant the WATCHMAN, your cardiologist makes a small cut in your upper leg and inserts a narrow tube, as done in a standard stent procedure. Your cardiologist then guides the WATCHMAN into the left atrial appendage (LAA) of your heart. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.