We are excited to announce that First Coast Heart and Vascular Center physician, Dr. Van Crisco is among the first physicians in Northeast Florida to implant the WATCHMAN device, a novel device for stroke risk reduction for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who have problems taking blood thinners. This procedure is offered at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, thorough the Memorial Structural Heart Program where Dr. Crisco also implants transcatheter aortic valves for severe symptomatic aortic stenosis.
The WATCHMAN device is indicated for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who are looking for an alternative to the long-term use of blood thinners, like Coumadin. The WATCHMAN device is an implantable acorn-shaped plug that closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage where over 90% of clots develop that can lead to stroke. The device is implanted through catheter access from the groin, and prevents damaging blood clots from forming. By shutting off the left atrial appendix, the risk of stroke is diminished, and patients may be able to discontinue taking blood thinners like Coumadin. This procedure is FDA approved and typically requires an overnight stay in hospital.
“For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, the WATCHMAN device gives patients a cutting-edge stroke-risk reduction option.” Dr. Crisco says, “The WATCHMAN device can potentially relieve patients from the complications and bleeding risk issues of long-term blood thinners.”
Atrial Fibrillation is a very common abnormal heart rhythm where the upper chambers of the heart beat with an irregular rhythm, predisposing patients to increased risk for stroke over time. Atrial fibrillation affects over 5 million Americans. Approximately 15-20% of all strokes occur in patients with atrial fibrillation, and strokes from atrial fibrillation are typically more severe then other causes. Currently, Coumadin and other newer anticoagulant blood thinners are the most common treatments to reduce stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation. Coumadin specifically, as well as some other blood thinners, is not well tolerated by many patients and carries a significant risk of bleeding complications in particular patients. Almost half of atrial fibrillation patients suitable for Coumadin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues. WATCHMAN gives these patients an innovative alternative to Coumadin for stroke risk reduction.
To learn more about atrial fibrillation and treatment options to reduce your risk of stroke and to learn about the WATCHMAN device, please call 904.423-0010 to make an appointment. Device specific information is also available at Watchman Implant Device.