Lehigh Valley Heart Institute is First in the Region to Offer People with AFib WATCHMAN FLX
Even though many people may not be able to keep a beat, their heart should. When a person has an arrhythmia, his or her heart beats at an irregular rate or rhythm. One of the most common types of arrhythmias is atrial fibrillation (AFib), and for people with that condition WATCHMAN FLX can stand guard to prevent strokes. Lehigh Valley Heart Institute has implanted more than 100 WATCHMAN devices and now people with AFib can receive the latest version of the device – WATCHMAN FLX.
AFib and stroke risk
“With AFib the top chamber of a heart quivers and that causes blood to stagnate. The most common place is in the left atrial appendage (LAA) of your heart,” says Babak Bozorgnia, MD, with LVPG Cardiology. Blood that stagnates will form clots, and when those clots become lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke may occur.
“Traditionally AFib patients have been prescribed blood-thinning medications to reduce their stroke risk, but that also increases their risk of bleeding,” says Bozorgnia. “WATCHMAN FLX provides another option.”
Why WATCHMAN FLX?
During an hour-long procedure, an LVPG cardiologist inserts a tube into the patient’s leg and then guides the WATCHMAN device to the heart. The umbrella-like device seals off the area where clots are likely to form, and the outcomes speak for themselves. Within 45 days of implantation 92 percent of patients are able to stop taking blood-thinning medications.1 People typically stay one night in the hospital following their procedure and are able to go home the following day.
WATCHMAN FLX can fit even more anatomies than the original device. It also includes features that further increase the device’s safety.
In 2014, Lehigh Valley Heart Institute implanted the first WATCHMAN device in the region, and it has protected that patient, Buzz Hill, ever since. Prior to the procedure Hill survived two strokes. “He was behind the wheel during one of his strokes,” says Buzz’s wife, Carolyn Hill. “We weren’t sure he was going to make it.” The WATCHMAN device was a game changer.
When asked what he’s been up to since the minimally invasive procedure, Hill said, “Where should I start? I’ve been hunting, gardening, doing lawn care and household chores.” The retired history teacher is living life to the fullest. “We have a lot fewer worries now. We’re grateful for the WATCHMAN,” says Carolyn.
“Lehigh Valley Heart Institute implants more WATCHMAN devices than anyone else in the region,” says Bozorgnia. “We are highly experienced.”
Talk with an LVPG cardiologist to learn more about WATCHMAN FLX.
1. Holmes DR Jr, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;64(1):1-12