Watchman Device: Quarter-sized device helps reduce stroke risk for atrial fibrillation patients

Quarter-sized device helps reduce stroke risk
Posted at 4:23 AM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 17:31:28-04

A new device – the size of a quarter –  is helping reduce the risk of stroke for those living with an irregular heartbeat.  

Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib.

Those with AFib are five times more likely to suffer from a stroke because it causes blood to pool in a part of the heart called the appendage, putting patients at a higher risk for a blood clot.

Cardiologist Dr. Vijay Swarup uses the Watchman Device to help his patients suffering from AFib. 

Doctors insert a tube through the patient’s leg then thread the device through that tube until it reaches the upper chamber of the heart. Then, Dr. Swarup says, a parachute-like device is deployed.  

“This Watchman Device is like a screen or a plug which seals off the opening of the appendage,” said Dr. Swarup. 

Dr. Swarup says the device is a great alternative for those who have a tough time taking blood thinners like Coumadin.   

The procedure takes about 30 minutes and generally patients go home the next day, according to Dr. Swarup. 

Irene and Rex Dunn have been married for more than 40 years. They both had the procedure done a few years ago. As a result, both were able to get off their blood thinners and maintain their active lifestyles. 

“It's changed my life to where it's a lot better,” said Irene.

“I can do anything that anyone else can,” said Rex.

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital was the only Arizona hospital to take part in a national clinical study for the Watchman Device. Dr. Vijay Swarup took part in the clinical study.

Those interested in the device need to speak with their doctor.