Atrial fibrillation, also known as an irregular heartbeat, is a condition that effects over 30 million people nationwide. Patients with this condition are often considered to be at a high risk for stroke.
Wheeling Hospital recently became the region’s first hospital to offer a new stroke reduction therapy for patients with this condition. It’s called the Watchman occlusion device and it’s intended for patients who cannot tolerate the extended use of blood thinners.
The Watchman is a small device, about the size of a quarter and shaped like a parachute. It is implanted in the left atrial appendage of the patient’s heart. Once in place, it keeps blood clots from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.
“Patients with Atrial fibrillation are at high risk for stroke ,and the way we treat it is with blood thinners. Therefore, if the patient is at high risk for bleeding and cannot take blood thinners, this is the ideal device and therapy for that patient,” said Dr. Triston Smith, Interventional Cardiologist.
“The left atrial Appendage closure device is another program at Wheeling Hospital to help patients with minimally invasive ways to treat some chronic cardiac problems, said Crystal Pietranton, Cardiac Services Coordinator.
The procedure takes about an hour and and patients are usually discharged the following day.