Nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition in which your heart’s upper chambers don’t pump blood properly, which can lead to the formation of blood clots and increase your risk of having a stroke. Ronald Levine, MD, and Ronald Caputo, MD, FACC, FSCAI, of Levine Heart & Wellness in Naples, Florida, are highly experienced cardiologists who specialize in using innovative devices like the Watchman™ implant. This device helps prevent blood clots from traveling to your brain and reduces the risk of stroke. Call Levine Heart & Wellness today to find out more or book an appointment using the online form.
Watchman is a treatment the Levine Heart & Wellness team uses to manage a condition called nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AFib), a type of atrial fibrillation that isn’t due to a heart valve problem. The Watchman device is an implant that fits into your heart.
Your provider might recommend Watchman if you need an alternative to blood thinners, the standard nonvalvular AFib treatment. Watchman eliminates not only your need to take blood thinners but also the stress of worrying about falls and bleeds that go with blood thinner use.
A normal heart contracts or squeezes rhythmically to pump blood around your body. If you have nonvalvular AFib, the upper chambers of your heart shake and quiver instead, so blood doesn’t pump through as it should.
This poor blood flow makes it easier for your blood to form clots. Most of the time these clots form in a part of your heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). From here, the clots can break off and travel along the blood vessels to your brain.
If a clot gets stuck, it cuts off blood supply to your brain, causing a stroke. On average, if you have nonvalvular AFib, you’re five times as likely to experience a stroke as someone who doesn’t have the condition.
The usual treatment approach to this problem is taking blood-thinning medication to keep your blood flowing and prevent clots from forming.
Watchman is a nonpharmaceutical method of preventing clots that fits into and closes off the LAA, where most clots form. It stops blood clots from traveling to your brain.
Watchman is small — roughly the size of a quarter — and composed of light, compact materials used in a range of medical implants. Fitting is permanent, so once you have Watchman, it shouldn’t need replacing.
To fit your Watchman, your provider at Levine Heart & Wellness makes a small incision in your thigh and inserts a thin tube called a catheter. They pass the Watchman device through the catheter to the LAA and guide it into place.
The procedure takes about an hour, under a general anesthetic. Most patients stay in the hospital overnight.
If you have nonvalvular AFib and you’re having problems with using blood thinners, or you’re concerned about having symptoms of nonvalvular AFib, call Levine Heart & Wellness today or book an appointment online.