JFK Medical Center is among the first hospitals in the state of Florida, and the first in Palm Beach County and the treasure coast, to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Implant.
The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep harmful blood clots from the left atrial appendage from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the left atrial appendage, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.
People with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in the left atrial appendage. For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, the left atrial appendage is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots. If a clot forms in the left atrial appendage, it can increase one's risk of having a stroke. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body. For decades, most people with atrial fibrillation have been treated with blood thinners, to reduce blood clots. But many times these create complications, such as internal bleeding.
Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours. The patients are then taken off warfarin by their cardiologist in about 30 to 45 days.