Anticoagulation Alternative Treatments

Atrial Fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that effects millions of people in the United States and around the world. Patients with atrial fibrillation are at increased risk of stroke, particularly when combined with risk factors such as:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Increased age
  • Diabetes
  • History of prior stroke
  • Female

Stroke occurs when blood clots form in the heart and travel to the brain or other parts of the body. Depending on a patient's risk of stroke, taking a blood thinning medication, also known as anticoagulation medication, may be recommended.

Types of anticoagulation medications include:

  • Warfarin
  • Dabigatran
  • Apixaban
  • Rivoraxaban
  • Edobaban

Who Can Benefit from WATCHMAN?

The WATCHMAN device is intended for patients who have atrial fibrillation and are on blood thinning therapy.

While blood thinners suit many patients, in some, they cause bleeding or skin bruising. In others, there is a desire to stop blood thinners because of a concern for falling or memory loss. In such patients, the placement of a Watchman device may be the solution.

What Is the WATCHMAN Procedure?

The WATCHMAN Implant is about the size of a quarter and does not require open heart surgery to place. The device is implanted into your heart chamber using a small catheter placed in your leg vein. This procedure is done under general anesthesia, takes about an hour, and usually requires a one-night stay in the hospital.

After the procedure patients will remain on their blood thinner for about 45 days while the body is healing. During the healing process, heart tissue grows over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots. Once in place and healed, the WATCHMAN allows you to stop taking blood thinners while maintaining protection against a stroke. Like with other minimally invasive procedures, there are no large cuts to the chest and recovery is quick.

Watch this video to learn more about how WATCHMAN works.

For more information about alternative to anticoagulation or the WATCHMAN device, please call the Heart Institute at (206) 341-1111.