January 24, 2017
Parkridge Medical Center recently became the first hospital in Chattanooga to offer the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant for reducing stroke risk in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF). Prior to the WATCHMAN LAAC Implant, AF patients relied upon long-term blood-thinning, or anticoagulant, medication regimens.
During AF, the heart beats irregularly, disrupting the flow of blood through the heart and increasing the likelihood of clot formation. Such clots can travel to the brain via the blood stream and cause a stroke. Many patients with AF require blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke, but such therapy can cause excessive bleeding and force the discontinuation of the protective treatment.
By adding the WATCHMAN procedure to its AF treatment capabilities - which include cardioversion, ablation, medication, the Convergent procedure and pacemaker implantation - Parkridge Medical Center has established a comprehensive electrophysiology program that provides a solution for patients with AF who are at greater risk for stroke but for whom there are few viable options for stroke prevention.
"The WATCHMAN LAAC Implant fills a large and troublesome gap in treatments for the AF patient population," said Christian Allan, M.D., a clinical cardiac electrophysiologist with Diagnostic Cardiology Group, who in December performed the first WATCHMAN device implantation in Chattanooga at Parkridge Medical Center. "The most at-risk patients with AF are those who need blood thinners to prevent stroke but cannot take them due to a history of bleeding. The WATCHMAN LAAC Implant gives us the ability to confidently deliver safe and effective therapy to these patients."
Researchers believe that as many as 90 percent of AF-related strokes are caused by blood clots formed in the left atrial appendage (LAA), a small, pouch-like outcropping attached to the left atrium. The WATCHMAN LAAC Implant seals the LAA, significantly reducing the risk of stroke in patients with AF who cannot take blood thinners.
The minimally invasive procedure to deploy the WATCHMAN LAAC Implant typically lasts one hour and is performed in the electrophysiology lab at Parkridge Medical Center. An electrophysiologist inserts a small catheter into the femoral vein of the leg and directs the catheter through the vein to the heart. Patients typically return home the day after the procedure.
Patients with AF seeking an alternative to long-term blood-thinning medication regimens can visit Parkridge Medical Center for more information.
To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, call Medline at (423) 622-6848.