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Atrial Fibrillation – Watchman



"Let's talk about atrial fibrillation and the Watchman procedure. If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, chances are, you might need to be on a blood thinner. Most patients with atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of stroke. So they are diagnosed and then placed on one of the subtypes of a blood thinner to prevent strokes. However, blood thinners are not always the best option for patients due to their side effects: bleeding, restrictions in lifestyle, medication side effects. And so therefore we have another option. This option is called the Watchman procedure. This is a procedure that is done that removes the stroke risk that atrial fibrillation causes. Why are you at an increased risk of stroke with atrial fibrillation? Inside the heart, there's an appendage. That appendage sits on the atrium and is used as a pressure release valve. However, during atrial fibrillation, that area of the heart has a higher predisposition of forming blood clots that can lead to strokes. Therefore you're placed on a blood thinner. With the Watchman procedure that problem is solved. This is a procedure that's done in a cath lab. It's non-invasive and relatively quick, with no downtime and no major complications. What it entails is a catheter is placed inside the vein and it is transversed to the heart where the appendage is located. This procedure then has a sort of umbrella device that plugs up that appendage and seals it so no blood clots can be formed. Once this procedure is done, it gives you the likelihood of coming off blood thinners within a few weeks. This is an excellent modality to help patients who do not tolerate blood thinners. With very few side effects and very few complications. Please ask your doctor iff the Watchman procedure is something that you could consider in replace of a blood thinner."

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