Alternative to Long-Term Warfarin Use

Watchman™ Implant

Patients who are taking warfarin on a long-term basis have a different option to help prevent blood clots and possible stroke. The Watchman™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant is an alternative for many patients that is designed to work as a safety net by closing off the left atrial appendage (LAA), and catching harmful blood clots before they enter the bloodstream whenever blood pools in the heart.

The Heart and Vascular Center at Manatee Memorial Hospital was the first hospital in the region to offer this FDA-approved implant device. The LAAC device is implanted through a small needle puncture in the groin area. It looks like a tiny parachute made from flexible mesh and springy wires and is guided through a catheter into a patient’s heart, where it can filter potential blood clots and prevent possible stroke. Watchman™ has been shown to prevent stroke as much as warfarin and with significantly less bleeding complications, according to a clinical trial conducted by Boston Scientific, the developer of the Watchman™ device.

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Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Risk

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2.7 and 6.1 million Americans have atrial fibrillation (AF), which starts as an irregular and rapid heart rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart. The rhythm change may begin slowly but becomes stronger and more constant as time goes on. AF doesn't always have symptoms. Many people don't even know they have it. Others may experience one or more of the symptoms below:

  • Feeling faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations

Physicians often treat AF with blood thinning medications, including aspirin or warfarin to prevent stroke. AF ablation may help the heart rate slow or help to control the heart rhythm. The WATCHMAN™ Device is an alternative to taking the blood thinners.

Atrial Fibrillation Risk Factors

As you age, you may increase your risk for AF. You should discuss AF with your physician if you have one or more of the risks below:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Enlargement of the left side of the heart chambers
  • European ancestry
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased age
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Obesity

Clinical Trial

Manatee Memorial Hospital is part of the AMPLATZER™ Amulet™ IDE Trial that will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of St. Jude Medical’s AMPLATZER Amulet Left Atrial Appendage Occluder, which is used to close the left atrial appendage (LAA) in patients diagnosed with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF). The trial is randomized and will enroll patients at up to 100 sites in the United States, as well as 50 sites internationally.

Patients enrolled in the trail will be randomly assigned to receive either the St. Jude Medical Amulet device or an FDA-approved LAA closure device in the control arm of the study. Data collected across the trial sites will be used to support FDA approval of the AMPLAZTER Amulet Occluder. The AMPLATZER Amulet Left Atrial Appendage Occluder is CE Marked (European Conformity) and available in Europe.

Is the WATCHMAN™ Implant right for you?

If you’ve been told you need to take blood thinning medication because you’re at increased risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation, the WATCHMAN™ Implant could be right for you. The WATCHMAN Implant is a one-time procedure that may allow you to stop taking blood thinners after 45 days.

Structural Heart Clinic

The Structural Heart Clinic at Manatee Memorial Hospital is dedicated to patients with aortic stenosis and stroke and bleeding risks associated with atrial fibrillation. The clinic is part of our Heart and Vascular Center and is located across the street from the hospital at 300 Riverside Drive East, Suite 1350. Patients will receive personalized evaluation from a team healthcare professionals.

Please call our office at 941-708-8064 for more information or to make an appointment.

Amanda Harrington
Please contact our Structural Heart Navigator, Amanda Harrington, RN, BSN, at 941-708-8064 to see if the WATCHMAN Implant may be right for you.