An Alternative to the Pill Box for AFib Patients

Karen McNew McGuire's picture
By Karen McNew McGuire on July 26, 2018

The WATCHMAN protects patients who have Atrial fibrillation or AFib from what could happen.
“We’re putting it in to reduce their risk of stroke and hopefully prevent future problems,” explained Jason Foerst, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at Carilion Clinic's Structural Heart and Valve Center. “With the atrial fibrillation, the blood is just sort of sitting there because the top chambers of the heart are sort of squirming rather than contracting. The blood likes to clot when it doesn't move and it tends to sit in this little nook.”
Why choose WATCHMAN, instead of blood thinning medications?
“It is targeting the possibility that this patient if un-checked on a long-term blood thinner could have a major bleeding event,” said Rahul Sharma, M.D., also an interventional cardiologist at Carilion's Structural Heart and Valve Center.
The WATCHMAN procedure starts through a vein in the leg with a narrow tube, a catheter to access the left atrial appendage of the heart. The catheter acts as a doorway for the WATCHMAN device to be precisely placed.
The procedure takes about an hour, and typically patients stay one night in the hospital.
“Eventually, after 45 days post-device implant, patients can get off of their blood thinner,” said Dr. Sharma.
“What happens is over a period of six months, the lining of the heart, the tissue of the heart, actually grows over the device so it completely excludes it,” explained Dr. Foerst. “So, it's not catching the clots.”
By a year after the device is put in, 99 percent of patients are off of their blood thinner for the rest of their lives,” added Dr. Sharma.
WATCHMAN, the most advanced opportunity for a permanent sense of security.
Patients who may benefit from WATCHMAN:

  • History of moderate/severe bleeding 
  • High risk for bleeding
  • Lifestyle limits safely taking blood thinners
  • Inability to maintain proper blood thinner schedule
  • Labile INR on warfarin 

If you think WATCHMAN is right for you, contact Sheree Emore, N.P., care coordinator at Carilion Clinic’s Structural Heart and Valve Center, by calling 540-982-8204 (office) or 540-685-1414 (cell).