Ascension St. Mary’s in Saginaw released the following on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021:
Ascension St. Mary’s physicians Safwan Kassas, MD, Asim Yunus, MD, and Pater Fattal, MD, recently implanted the next-generation Watchman device in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). The structural heart team at Ascension St. Mary’s hospital was the first in the Great Lakes Bay Region to offer the Watchman FLX Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) closure device, built upon the most studied and implanted LAA device in the world, as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with AF not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AF).
February is National Heart Month, which serves as a timely reminder of the increased risk of stroke among up to 6 million Americans who are estimated to be affected by AF – an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms. Other serious risks from AF include heart failure, chronic fatigue, additional heart rhythm problems and inconsistent blood supply.
The Watchman FLX device closes off the left atrial appendage area of the heart to keep harmful blood clots that can form from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off that area, the risk of stroke may be reduced, and over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner. This next-generation technology has a new design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.
“Building upon the well-established Watchman technology, this new device serves as a safe and effective stroke risk reduction alternative for patients with non-valvular AF, especially those with a compelling reason not to be on blood thinners,” said Dr. Safwan Kassas. “Ascension St. Mary’s has extensive experience implanting these devices, offering patients a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment that will allow us to treat a broader range of patients going forward.”
The Watchman technology has been implanted in more than 100,000 patients worldwide and is done in a one-time procedure. It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
A recent patient expressed how grateful he was to receive this new state-of-the-art technology at Ascension St. Mary’s sharing, “I will no longer have to worry about blood clots in their heart or bleeding from the blood thinner. I can now live my life with less fear.”