Have you ever heard of a Watchman Device? It is a small medical implant that can prevent strokes in people with atrial fibrillation or AFib. Watchman Devices have been gaining popularity as they offer a safe and effective alternative to blood thinners and reduce the risk of stroke by sealing off the left atrial appendage, where blood clots can form. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with AFib, read on as we provide a comprehensive guide to using watchman heart device.
Understanding Atrial Fibrillation
Before we dive into how Watchman Devices work, it’s important to understand what atrial fibrillation is. AFib is a heart condition that causes an irregular heartbeat, where the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating regularly. This can lead to blood clots forming in the heart, which can then travel to the brain, causing strokes. AFib is the most common heart arrhythmia, and its prevalence increases with age. It is estimated that up to 6.1 million people in the US are living with AFib.
What is a Watchman Device?
A Watchman Device is a small, umbrella-like implant that is inserted into the heart to block off the left atrial appendage. The left atrial appendage is a small sac in the heart where blood can pool and clot. By blocking off this area, the risk of clots forming is reduced, and the risk of stroke is minimized. The Watchman Device is typically inserted through a small incision in the groin and guided into position in the heart using a catheter.
The Pros and Cons of Using a Watchman Device
Watchman Devices offer numerous benefits, including reducing the risk of stroke, avoiding the need for blood thinners and their associated risks, and improving quality of life. Blood thinners, such as warfarin or Coumadin, can cause side effects such as bleeding, and require frequent monitoring. However, Watchman Devices are not without risks. The procedure itself carries some risk of complications, such as bleeding or infection, and there is a small risk of blood clots forming on the device itself.
Before the Watchman Device is inserted, patients will typically undergo several tests to determine if they are a suitable candidate for the procedure. These tests may include an echocardiogram, a CT scan, and blood tests. Once it is determined that the patient is a suitable candidate, the device can be inserted. The procedure typically takes about one hour to complete and is done under anesthesia. After the procedure, patients will need to remain in the hospital for a short period of time for observation.
What to Expect After the Procedure
After the Watchman Device is inserted, patients will be advised to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for several days. They will also be prescribed blood thinners for a short period of time to prevent blood clots from forming on the device. Follow-up appointments with the doctor will be scheduled to monitor how the implant is working and to assess for any potential complications. Most patients are able to resume their normal activities within a few days of the procedure.
Watchman Devices offer an effective and safe alternative to blood thinners for people living with AFib. While the procedure is not without risks, the benefits of reducing the risk of stroke and improving quality of life are significant. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with AFib, speak to your doctor about whether a Watchman Device could be a suitable option. With proper monitoring and care, Watchman Devices can help reduce the risk of stroke and improve outcomes for those living with AFib.