Treatment provides patients with A-Fib alternative to long-term daily blood thinning drug therapy.
Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital has begun offering patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (A-Fib), an irregular heart beat, a new implantable device called WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC.). Approved by the FDA, WATCHMAN LAAC offers patients who have taken or will be taking blood thinners such as Warfarin (commonly known as Coumadin) on a long-term basis an alternative treatment approach. Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital is the first cardiac center in Dallas to offer this new approach. James Choi, M.D., director of Interventional Cardiology Fellowship, has received special training to implant the WATCHMAN device.
"We always worry about patients with A-Fib potentially experiencing a stroke," says Dr. Choi. "Research has shown that patients with this type of heart arrhythmia are five times more likely to have a stroke. Blood thinners have been the standard course of treatment, but, for some patients, an alternative such as the WATCHMAN device is a better long-term approach."
According to Boston Scientific, developers of the WATCHMAN device, A-Fib is one of the most common arrhythmias and affects nearly two percent of the world's population. The incidence of A-Fib is predicted to increase five-fold over the next 40 years, particularly In the United States, primarily due to the growing elderly population.
A-Fib can decrease the heart's pumping efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Poor pumping increases the risk of clots forming in the heart chambers, particularly the left atrial appendage (LAA). The LAA is pouch-shaped and about the size of your thumb. It is located on the top of the heart. The WATCHMAN device is designed to prevent blood clots that frequently form in the LAA from traveling in the blood stream to the brain, lungs and other parts of the body. Clots that travel to the brain cause strokes, one of the leading causes of death and disability.
"The WATCHMAN device is implanted in the LACC using minimally invasive techniques," says Dr. Choi. "The parachute-shaped device is the size of a quarter and consists of a nitinol cage with a polytetrafluoroethylene membrane and includes a row of fixation barbs. The hour-long procedure is performed in the Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital's catheterization lab using general anesthesia. The interventional cardiologist uses fluroroscopic imaging to guide a sheath into the LAA. The sheath serves as a duct for the delivery of a catheter that is pre-loaded with the WATCHMAN device. The catheter is advanced to the tip of the access sheath and is deployed by a gentle retraction of the sheath. Patients are generally released from the hospital after 24 hours. Medical follow-up continues over the course of time as patients decrease their blood thinner medication under the supervision of a cardiologist."
Dr. Choi explains that the WATCHMAN device is suitable for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who:
The WATCHMAN device recently received FDA approval after years of research and clinical trials proved its effectiveness. Patients worldwide have experienced outcomes that make this a viable option.
"It is also important for patients to understand that, like blood thinning medications, the WATCHMAN device does not cure atrial fibrillation," says Dr. Choi. "It is also important to know that a stroke can occur as a result of factors not related to a clot traveling to the brain from the left atrial appendage. Other causes of stroke can include high blood pressure and narrowing of the blood vessels to the brain. The WATCHMAN implant will not prevent these other causes of stroke. We always encourage patients to discuss their specific situation with their physician and to explore all options to reduce the potential risk of stroke. For more information about Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital or to find a physician, please call 1-800-4-BAYLOR.
Regarding physician ownership: Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital is a hospital in which physicians have an ownership or investment interest. The list of the physician owners or investors is available upon request. Physicians are members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Health Care System's subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and are neither employees nor agents of those medical centers, Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital or Baylor Health Care System.
About Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital
Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital opened in 2002 as the first North Texas hospital dedicated solely to the care and treatment of heart and vascular patients. The hospital provides inpatient and outpatient services focused on preventive health care and comprehensive cardiovascular disease management. Designed as a patient-centered facility, features include both invasive and non-invasive cardiologic technology, cardiac CT imaging and cardiac rehabilitation. Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital is located on the campus of Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas near downtown Dallas. For more information visit: www.BaylorHearthHospital.com
About Boston Scientific:
The WATCHMAN Device is a permanent implant designed to close the left atrial appendage in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke. With all medical procedures there are risks associated with the implant procedure and the use of the device. The risks include but are not limited to accidental heart puncture, air embolism, allergic reaction, anemia, anesthesia risks, arrhythmias, AV (Arteriovenous) fistula, bleeding or throat pain from the TEE (Trans Esophageal Echo) probe, blood clot or air bubbles in the lungs or other organs, bruising at the catheter insertion site, clot formation on the WATCHMAN™ Closure Device, cranial bleed, excessive bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, groin puncture bleed, hypotension, infection/pneumonia, pneumothorax, pulmonary edema, pulmonary vein obstruction, renal failure, stroke, thrombosis and transient ischemic attack. In rare cases death can occur. Be sure to talk with your doctor so that you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated.
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