Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common form of heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). More than 2 million people in the country have atrial fibrillation. Unfortunately, atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke and most people take blood thinners to reduce the chances that a blood clot will form in their heart and travel to their brain, causing a stroke. For those individuals that don’t react well to blood thinners, or have other lifestyle factors that aren’t suitable for taking anti-coagulation medication, Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center offers another form of treatment: The Watchman Device.
It is important for a patient with an arrhythmia disorder to be assessed by a cardiologist or related healthcare professional about medication and treatment.
The Watchman is a small mechanical device that is inserted through a major blood vessel in the groin. It is then threaded into a part of the heart called the left atrial appendage, where it is opened and used to seal off that small area from the rest of the heart. Research has shown that the majority of stroke-causing blood clots form in the left atrial appendage, and the Watchman device stops clots from leaving the heart. The whole procedure takes about an hour and requires an overnight stay in the hospital. After six weeks, most patients will be able to transition to lesser blood thinning medication. After six months, most patients will take only aspirin.
The Watchman Device has been shown to be as effective as the most commonly prescribed blood thinner and should lower the risk of blood clots and improve the patient’s quality of life. The exceptional team of cardiologists and related healthcare professionals at Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center are dedicated to continuous education and training in the constantly advancing technologies for procedures and other arrhythmia treatment options.
For more information about the Watchman procedure, call Melissa Tatum at (336) 938-0694.
Dr. Michael Cooper is an interventional cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare at Church Street. Dr. Cooper is a 2000 graduate of Marshall University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic and completed a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine and interventional cardiology at Ohio State University Hospital.