What is the Watchman Device?
The Watchman Device is a small implant placed in the heart that reduces the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Patients with atrial fibrillation are at increased risk of stroke, mainly due to clots that form in a small chamber in the top of the heart known as the left atrial appendage.
How does it work?
In the Watchman procedure, a small tube is passed up to this appendage through the veins of the leg and the watchman device is deployed, closing off the appendage. For this reason, the Watchman procedure is known as a form of left atrial appendage occlusion. The left atrial appendage is a small sac in the top left chamber of the heart. In people with atrial fibrillation, this sac quivers constantly, the blood in the sac becomes stagnant as a result, and clots can form in it known as left atrial appendage clots. These clots can get loose and travel to the brain leading to strokes. Implanting the Watchman Device in to the left atrial appendage basically closes off the appendage and prevents any clots from forming inside.
Results and Expectations
Use of blood thinner is the preferred treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation. However, many patients with atrial fibrillation cannot tolerate blood thinners. For these patients, the Watchman Device is a good alternative to reduce stroke risk while also limiting the long-term risk of bleeding events.