Watchman Device for Left Atrial Appendage Closure
Drs. Patrick Whalen and David Zhao are among the first in the state to offer new procedure.
Experts at Wake Forest Baptist Health are among the first in the state to offer a new procedure for patients with AFib who take warfarin therapy regularly to prevent strokes.
David Zhao, MD, and Patrick Whalen, MD, were among the first cardiovascular experts in the state offering the procedure using a new LAAC ( Left Atrial Appendage Closure) device. The device, called the WATCHMAN™, offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, an alternative to taking warfarin therapy and the side-effects, such as bleeding, that come with the therapy. This procedure has also been shown to decrease a patient’s stroke risk by as much as 77% in clinical trials.
The device works by closing off the LAA on the left side of the heart which is believed to be the source of a majority of blood clots related to stroke. The device is inserted via a catheter in the Heart & Vascular Center’s state-of-the-art hybrid catherization lab. The procedure takes about an hour and patients typically spend 2-3 days in the hospital.
“We have seen a 66% increase in the number of AFib cases in the past 20 years,” Patrick Whalen, MD said. “And a good number of those patients take warfarin also. This procedure provides patients an alternative to taking medications long-term to control their AFib. For patients whose AFib is not well controlled or for patients who can’t take blood thinners, this is a significant step in helping them have a better quality of life.”