Permanent heart implant reduces risk of stroke in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation
Cardiologists at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center (CBMC), an RWJBarnabas healthcare facility, have successfully completed their 500e WATCHMAN™ procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) in August. After performing its first procedure in 2017, the hospital is one of only two facilities in Northern New Jersey to complete the milestone of Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) device implants, an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, also known as nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.
“Reaching this milestone is an incredible achievement for our cardiology team,” said David P. Dobesh, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist at RWJBarnabas Medical Group. “This speaks to the high level of expertise offered by our imaging and implantation cardiologists and demonstrates the exceptional results and improved quality of life they have been able to achieve for patients with atrial fibrillation.”
An estimated seven million Americans are affected by atrial fibrillation, a condition that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood normally, causing blood to pool in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) where a blood clot can form. When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke. People with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke than those with normal heart rhythms.
The WATCHMAN implant fits into the LAA and is designed to permanently close it and prevent harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke or embolism. By closing the AGA, the risk of stroke is reduced and six weeks after the procedure, patients stop taking their anticoagulant for AFib, reducing the risk of bruising, bleeding and anemia.
The WATCHMAN technology has been implanted in more than 200,000 patients worldwide and is done in one go. It is a permanent device that does not need to be replaced and cannot be seen outside the body. The procedure is done while the patient is asleep under anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients usually stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
For more information on WATCHMAN device procedures at CBMC and other RWJBarnabas healthcare facilities, visit here.