Atrial fibrillation is a turbulent rhythm of the upper chambers of the heart called the atria. It is the most common heart rhythm disorder, affecting more than 2.7 million people in the United States.
Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke
A person with atrial fibrillation is five times more likely to suffer a debilitating stroke than someone with normal heart rhythm. Over 90% of clots that cause strokes, originating from the heart, form in the small structure called the left atrial appendage. A stroke occurs when a blood clot escapes from this structure and travels to the brain, and impedes blood supply.
Anticoagulation (blood thinners) therapy is the primary treatment for stroke prevention. Examples of blood thinners include:
- Traditional Coumadin (warfarin)
- New agents such as Xarelto (rivaroxaban), Eliquis (apixaban), Pradaxa (dabigatran), and Savaysa (edoxaban)
However, many patients cannot tolerate blood thinners due to the following:
- History of major bleeding while taking anticoagulation therapy
- Patient’s prior experience with oculoauriculovertebral dysplasia (OAC):
- Inability to maintain a stable international normalized ratio (INR)
- Failure to comply with regular INR monitoring and unavailability of an approved alternative OAC
- Medical condition, occupation or lifestyle placing the patient at high risk of major bleeding secondary to trauma
The WATCHMAN Device
A recent alternative device to oral anticoagulation therapy in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation is the WATCHMAN device. It is designed to reduce the risk of thromboembolism (clots and stroke) by permanently closing off the left atrial appendage (LAA) and keep harmful blood clots from entering your bloodstream. This reduces the risk of stroke and, over time, may be able to stop taking oral anticoagulants.
The WATCHMAN Implant is a one-time implant that is inserted through the femoral veins and does not require major surgery. The implanted device does not require open-heart surgery and does not need to be replaced. Patients are typically able to return home the day following the procedure.
Memorial Katy Cardiology Associates
Memorial Katy Cardiology Associates is dedicated to proven leading-edge technology, including the WATCHMAN device, to provide the best possible outcome for our patients. Dr. Kashani was one of the first two cardiologists in Houston to implant this device and now performs this procedure regularly.