September is Atrial fibrillation (AFib) awareness month, one of the most common forms of heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). Individuals with AFib are at an increased risk for stroke, and most take blood thinners to reduce the chance that a blood clot will form in their heart, travel to their brain and cause a stroke. For those individuals who 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.
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 arrhythmia procedures and other treatment options.
For more information about the Watchman procedure, call (336) 938-0694.
Dr. James Allred is a cardiologist and the director of the Cone Health Atrial Fibrillation Center. Dr. Allred is a 2002 graduate of Medical College of Virginia, completing a residency in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He is a leading expert in electrophysiology and treating arrhythmia, completing a fellowship in cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology at University Alabama-Birmingham.