UMHS among first in nation to use new device for stroke prevention

May 14, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Announcements,

WATCHMAN offers patients with atrial fibrillation alternative to warfarin therapy

The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is among the first heart centers in the nation to use the WATCHMAN implant to help prevent stroke among patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, resulting in a too fast or irregular heart rhythm among more than 5 million Americans.

Doctors often prescribe the blood-thinning medication warfarin to reduce risk of stroke, but it is not well-tolerated by some patients and has a significant risk for bleeding complications.

WATCHMAN closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage closure where harmful blood clots can form and then enter the bloodstream causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke and other systemic embolization may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

“The WATCHMAN device offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy,” says electrophysiologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Eric D. Good, D.O., who served as principal investigator at the U-M during the major clinical trials leading up to the device’s recent FDA approval.

The WATCHMAN device is shaped like a parachute and implanted during a one-time minimally invasive procedure in an electrophysiology lab. The device is intended for those whom warfarin therapy is risky.

The first U-M patient to receive the commercially released WATCHMAN device was Danny Morris, 65, who has been diagnosed with complex heart and kidney issues and a history of bleeding complications while on long-term warfarin.

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