Cardiologists at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak have performed the Midwest’s first implant of a device as an alternative to long-term use of blood-thinning medication to reduce the risk of stroke.
“This advanced technology will be truly life-changing for many atrial fibrillation patients, freeing them from the dangers of stroke risk and the daily challenges of long-term, blood-thinning medications,” says Dr. Steven Almany at Beaumont.
The device — called the Watchman — was developed by Boston Scientific and is about the size of a quarter. It has been approved in Europe since 2005 and has been used on about 10,000 patients and was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Almany says the device, shaped like a parachute, is implanted into the heart to close off the left atrial appendage, a pouch of heart tissue where blood clots can form. The device is inserted through a catheter placed into a vein in the leg. The procedure is minimally invasive, and only needs to be done once.
Atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder, affects more than 5 million Americans, primarily the elderly. The most common treatment is blood-thinning medication, but due to complications to the medication, fewer than 50 percent of patients are treated with it. Published results of trials show a 60 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality.