An Alternative to Blood Thinners

Many patients who experience atrial fibrillation (Afib) not caused by heart valve problems take a blood thinning drug, like warfarin, to help reduce their risk of stroke. While an effective treatment, warfarin does come with its own challenges, including regular blood test requirements, food and drink restrictions, and the risk of bleeding.

Pulse Heart Institute now offers the FDA-approved WATCHMAN implant, a permanent device that offers an alternative to lifelong blood thinner use, and that can reduce patients' risk of stroke as effectively as warfarin. Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 patients who receive the WATCHMAN implant can stop taking warfarin 45 days after the WATCHMAN procedure.

How it Works

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) affects the heart’s ability to pump blood properly. This can cause blood to pool in a part of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA), and clots may form. If a blood clot escapes from the heart it can cause a stroke.

For people who have Afib that is not caused by heart valve problems, more than 90 percent of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA. The WATCHMAN implant is designed to permanently block off the LAA so clots cannot escape.

The WATCHMAN implant is inserted using a catheter through a small incision in the patient's leg.

You can learn more about the WATCHMAN implant by visiting the WATCHMAN website.

Is WATCHMAN Right for You?

The WATCHMAN implant may be the right treatment for you if you:

  • Have atrial fi­brillation (AFib) not caused by heart valve problems
  • Have been given a recommendation to take blood thinning medicines by your doctor
  • Can take warfarin but need an alternative to blood thinners for any one of these reasons:
    • A history of major bleeding while taking blood thinners
    • A medical condition, lifestyle or occupation that puts you at risk for major bleeding
    • Trouble staying within the recommended blood clotting range (a measurement known as INR) or getting regular blood tests to confirm their INR, and you cannot take another blood thinner besides warfarin

Schedule an Appointment

The first step in deciding if the WATCHMAN implant is the right treatment choice for you is to talk to your Pulse Heart Institute cardiologist.

To schedule an appointment, or refer a patient, please call our referral line at 253-572-7320.