Washington Health System – Among first hospitals to offer an alternative to long-term warfarin therapy with the newly-approved WATCHMAN LAAC Device
Washington Health System is the first hospital in Southwestern Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, to offer the Boston Scientific WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device, a first-of-its-kind, proven alternative to long-term warfarin therapy for stroke risk reduction in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF).
The WATCHMAN Device is intended for percutaneous, transcatheter closure of the left atrial appendage (LAA). Patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who are at increased risk for stroke and systemic embolism, are suitable for warfarin and seek a non-pharmacologic alternative to warfarin may be eligible for a WATCHMAN Device. By closing off the LAA, a thin, sack-like appendix arising from the left side of the heart that is believed to be the source of a majority of stroke-causing blood clots in people with non-valvular AF1, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.
Fulfilling A Need
Non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans.2 Patients with AF have a five-fold increased risk of stroke due to blood stagnating from the improperly beating atrium and the resulting blood clot formation.3 Stroke is more severe for patients with AF, as they have a 70% chance of death or permanent disability.3 The most common treatment for stroke risk reduction in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin therapy. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin therapy is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.4
Clinical Study Results
The WATCHMAN Device can be implanted safely5, enables patients to discontinue warfarin6 and reduces AF stroke risk comparably to warfarin7. In addition, the WATCHMAN Device demonstrated statistically superior reductions in hemorrhagic stroke, disabling stroke and cardiovascular death compared to warfarin over long-term follow-up8:
- 85% in hemorrhagic stroke
- 63% in disabling stroke
- 56% in cardiovascular death
Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour and is typically conducted with general anesthesia. The WATCHMAN Device is implanted through a femoral access via a trans-septal approach by using a catheter-based delivery system. The device is designed to permanently close off the LAA, believed to be the source of a majority of stroke-causing blood clots,1 and thereby avoid the migration of emboli to the brain. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.
The WATCHMAN LAAC Device is approved in more than 70 countries and over 10,000 implants have been performed worldwide.
For more information or to schedule an evaluation call the
Washington Health System Valve Clinic Coordinator