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The WATCHMAN™: Reduce the Risk of Stroke without Blood Thinners

A New Medical Device for People with Atrial Fibrillation

People with untreated atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, are at increased risk of stroke. In non-valvular a-fib, the left atrial appendage (LAA), a small pouch on the top of the heart, is believed to be the source of a majority of stroke-causing blood clots. While blood-thinning medications can reduce the risk of clots, some patients are unable to take blood-thinning agents long term. The WATCHMAN™, a device that is implanted in a minimally invasive procedure, may be the answer.

Medications can reduce the risk of blood clots that could lead to stroke.

  • Anti-platelet medicines, including aspirin, keep platelets in the blood from sticking together and forming clots.
  • Anti-clotting medicines, such as Pradaxa® and warfarin (Coumadin®), also help prevent clots from forming in your blood. 

Blood thinners such as warfarin have been available for more than 50 years to reduce the risk of stroke in people with a-fib and work well for many patients. However, there are reasons why some patients do not take blood thinners even though they are able to.

For those patients considered suitable for short-term warfarin use by their physicians but have reason to seek an alternative, the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device is an implant-based option. The WATCHMAN Device is implanted in the left atrial appendage of your heart to permanently close off this small pouch and keep harmful blood clots from entering your bloodstream.

By closing off the left atrial appendage, the source of more than 90% of stroke-causing blood clots that come from the heart in people with non-valvular a-fib, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, you may be able to stop taking warfarin.

Maine Medical Center is the only hospital in northern New England to offer this new device to patients.

Ask your doctor if you may be a candidate for the WATCHMAN. If so, ask for a referral to Maine Medical Center.

Contact: Jill Knutson, BSN, R.N., Electrophysiology Program Manager, (207) 662-3150

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