UofL Physicians Offering Newly Approved Watchman LAAC Implant to Help Fight Stroke-Causing Blood Clots

Published on October 20, 2016

Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, is among the first hospitals in Kentucky to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to long-term anticoagulation (blood thinner used to treat or prevent blood clots in veins or arteries). The hospital is now offering the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant. UofL Physicians are part of the team offering this new implant.

For patients with AF who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians, but have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN LAAC Implant is an implant alternative to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke. The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.  

People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in the LAA. For patients with non-valvular AF, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots. If a clot forms in the LAA, it can significantly increase one’s risk of having a stroke. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body.

“The new WATCHMAN LAAC Implant provides physicians with a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with non-valvular AF,” said Rakesh Gopinathannair, MD, director of cardiac electrophysiology, University of Louisville Physicians and KentuckyOne Health. “For patients with non-valvular AF who have reasons to seek an alternative to warfarin, the WATCHMAN Implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option that could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.”

Along with Dr. Gopinathannair, other doctors performing this procedure at Jewish Hospital include Jeffrey Stidam, MD, KentuckyOne Health Cardiology Associates; Michael Flaherty, MD, UofL Physicians, assistant professor of medicine at University of Louisville School of Medicine; and Naresh Solankhi, MD, KentuckyOne Health Cardiology Associates.

Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.

About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication.  Despite its proven efficacy, long-term anticoagulation is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications.  Nearly half of AF patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.

The WATCHMAN Implant is designed to close the LAA in order to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke for higher risk patients with non-valvular AF. The WATCHMAN Implant has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world.

For more information on the WATCHMAN Implant, visit watchmanimplant.com or call 502-569-7935.

About Boston Scientific

Boston Scientific is a worldwide developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices that are used in a broad range of interventional medical specialties. For more information, please visit www.bostonscientific.com.

WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device from 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 with the implantation of the WATCHMAN Device.