Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition that causes an irregular and often rapid heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or other serious complications. While there are various treatment options for AFib, many people have to rely on blood thinners to reduce their risk of stroke. However, blood thinners can cause bleeding or other side effects in some people. Fortunately, there is a new procedure called the Watchman that offers a revolutionary alternative to blood thinners. In this article, we’ll give an overview of the watchman surgeryand its benefits.

What is the Watchman Procedure?

The Watchman is a non-invasive procedure that blocks the left atrial appendage (LAA) in the heart, the area responsible for 90% of clots in people with AFib. The procedure involves inserting a small, umbrella-shaped device into the LAA through a catheter that’s guided through the groin vein. The device closes off the LAA, preventing blood clots from entering and causing a stroke.

Who is a Candidate for the Watchman Procedure?

The Watchman procedure is intended for people who have AFib and are at risk for stroke but cannot take blood thinners, such as those who have had a history of bleeding or who are at risk for falls. The procedure may not be suitable for those with certain heart conditions, such as a mitral valve disease, as well as those who have a large LAA or a contraindication to the use of catheters.

What are the Benefits of the Watchman Procedure?

One of the primary benefits of the Watchman procedure is that it eliminates the need for blood thinners, reducing the risk of bleeding or other associated side effects. Patients can generally return to their normal activities within a few days of the procedure, with most able to discontinue blood thinners within six months of having the Watchman device implanted. Studies have shown that the Watchman has a success rate of 95%, with nearly all strokes prevented by the device being related to procedural or implant complications rather than residual LAA flow.

What Are the Risks of the Watchman Procedure?

Like any medical procedure, the Watchman does come with some inherent risks. In some cases, the device may not completely close off the LAA, or it may cause a complication such as pericardial effusion or blood clots. There’s also a risk of bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to the device or medication used during the procedure. However, these risks tend to be minor, with most complications occurring during the first week after implantation. Patients typically undergo regular monitoring to ensure that the device is functioning as intended.

If you have AFib and are unable to take blood thinners or simply want to avoid the associated risks, the Watchman procedure may be an appealing option for you. While the procedure does involve some risks, it offers a safe and effective way to reduce your risk of stroke without the need for long-term blood thinners. As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any medical decisions that are appropriate for your circumstances, including whether the Watchman procedure is right for you.