What is WATCHMAN?
WATCHMAN is a small, flexible implant about the size of a quarter. It is made from very light, compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants. It is placed into your heart during a minimally invasive procedure and never needs to be replaced. More than 150,000 patients have received WATCHMAN, and it has a 98.8% procedural success rate.
AM I a Candidate for Watchman?
Some people are unable to tolerate blood thinners for various reasons such as known bleeding complications, drug side effects, drug cost or even occupational hazards that could cause injury and excessive bleeding. The decision to get WATCHMAN is shared between you and your doctor. Take this quiz to learn more about your eligibility for WATCHMAN and download a discussion guide you can use to help start important conversations.
How does it work?
To understand how WATCHMAN works, it helps to understand the connection between AFib and stroke. Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, affects your heart’s ability to pump blood normally. This can cause blood to pool in an area called the left atrial appendage, or LAA. There, blood cells can stick together and form a clot. When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.
In people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, more than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA. That’s why closing off this part of the heart is an effective way to reduce stroke risk. The WATCHMAN Implant fits right into your LAA. It’s designed to permanently close it off and keep those blood clots from escaping.
The Procedure: What to Expect
The procedure to implant the WATCHMAN device does not require open-heart surgery and takes about an hour. Your doctor will insert a catheter into the upper leg (groin area) and guide the WATCHMAN device through a blood vessel to the left atrial appendage. Once in the appendage, the WATCHMAN expands to the size of a quarter and blocks off the appendage.
Most patients stay in the hospital overnight and resume work and normal activities within a few days. Eventually, the heart’s tissue grows over the device to form a seal against clots, eliminating the need for long-term blood thinners. About 96% of people who underwent WATCHMAN were able to discontinue their blood thinners after 45 days. Learn more about what will happen before, during and after the procedure.