Watchman Specialist

Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology -  - Cardiologist

Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology

Cardiologists located in Evergreen Park, IL & Palos Heights, IL

It’s not a pill, it’s called WATCHMAN. Call us to see if the WATCHMAN is right for you. (708) 346-5562

Watchman Q & A

The WATCHMAN Difference

WATCHMAN offers an alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib).

This permanent heart implant effectively reduces the risk of stroke—without the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of warfarin (the most common blood thinner).1,2 What’s more, WATCHMAN can eliminate the regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with warfarin. (Warfarin is also known as Coumadin®.)

In a clinical trial, 9 out of 10 people were able to stop taking warfarin just 45 days after the WATCHMAN procedure.1

How WATCHMAN Works

To understand how WATCHMAN works, it helps to know more about the connection between atrial fibrillation and stroke.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, affects your heart’s ability to pump blood normally. This can cause blood to pool in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage, or LAA. There, blood cells can stick together and form a clot. When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.3,4

In people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, more than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA.3 That’s why closing off this part of the heart is an effective way to reduce stroke risk.

The WATCHMAN Implant fits right into your LAA. It’s designed to permanently close it off and keep those blood clots from escaping. WATCHMAN is about the size of a quarter and made from very light and compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants.

The WATCHMAN Procedure

WATCHMAN is implanted into your heart 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.

To implant WATCHMAN, your doctor makes a small cut in your upper leg and inserts a narrow tube, as done in a standard stent procedure. Your doctor then guides WATCHMAN into the left atrial appendage (LAA) of your heart. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.

Due to the risk of having a medical procedure, patients should not be considered for WATCHMAN if they are doing well and expect to continue doing well on blood thinners.

Why WATCHMAN?

WATCHMAN may be a life-changing alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin. In a one-time procedure, WATCHMAN effectively reduces the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem.1

As a permanent implant, WATCHMAN doesn’t come with the same bleeding risks associated with the long-term use of warfarin.2 This makes it an important option for people with a history or risk of serious bleeding on blood thinners. Newer blood thinners (also known as novel oral anticoagulant drugs) offer additional options to warfarin, but they don’t take away the long-term risk of bleeding.1

If You Have Serious Bleeding Concerns

If you have atrial fibrillation and you take a blood thinner to reduce your stroke risk, you’re probably aware of the bleeding risks that come with your medication. Maybe you’ve even experienced a serious bleed and had to go the hospital.

Hear about two real patients who had serious bleeding events while taking blood thinners. In the following videos, Marjorie and Billy talk about their experiences, the effects on their families, and why their cardiologists recommended WATCHMAN. If you, too, have a history of serious bleeding, then WATCHMAN may be right for you.

You may also be a candidate for WATCHMAN if you have a lifestyle or condition that increases your risk for serious bleeding. Certain lifestyles or conditions may increase your bleeding risk by putting you at higher risk for falls or making you prone to injury in other ways. Talk to your cardiologist about your risk.

If You're Out of Range on Warfarin

WATCHMAN isn’t only for people with serious bleeding concerns. People with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem are often prescribed warfarin, a common blood thinner, to reduce their stroke risk.

If you’re taking warfarin (also known as Coumadin®), you know about the regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with it. Some people aren’t able to get regular blood tests, or they have trouble staying within the recommend blood clotting range that the test measures. Missing your medication frequently or failing to follow dietary guidelines on warfarin can put you out of range.3

Who WATCHMAN Is For

The WATCHMAN Implant may be right for people who meet the following criteria:

  • They have atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib)
  • They have been recommended for blood thinning medicines by their doctor
  • They can take warfarin but need an alternative

 People may need an alternative to warfarin for any one of these reasons:

  • They have a history of major (serious) bleeding while taking blood thinners
  • They have a lifestyle, occupation, or condition that puts them at risk for major bleeding
  • They take warfarin and have trouble staying within the recommended blood clotting range (a measurement known as INR*) or getting regular blood tests to confirm their INR, and they cannot take a different type of blood thinner

*INR, or International Normalized Ratio, is a measurement of how long it takes for your blood to clot. If you’re out of range, you may be at higher risk for stroke or at higher risk for bleeding.3

As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved with WATCHMAN. See the Important Safety Information below for a list of possible complications, and ask your cardiologist about the risks and benefits of WATCHMAN.

Who WATCHMAN Is Not For

People who should not receive the WATCHMAN Implant include but are not limited to those who:

  • Cannot take warfarin (Coumadin®), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix®)
  • Should not or cannot undergo heart catheterization procedures
  • Have an allergy or sensitivity to nitinol (nickel and titanium) or any of the other materials in the WATCHMAN Implant
  • Have a left atrial appendage that is too large or too small to fit the WATCHMAN Implant
  • Need to take blood thinners for reasons other than AFib stroke risk reduction

Ask your cardiologist if any of these conditions apply to you.

Due to the risk of having a medical procedure, patients should also not be considered for WATCHMAN if they are doing well and expect to continue doing well on blood thinners.

After the Procedure

Following the WATCHMAN procedure, you’ll take warfarin (a common blood thinner) for 45 days or until your LAA is permanently closed off. During this time, heart tissue will grow over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots. Your doctor will monitor this process by taking pictures of your heart to see when you can stop taking warfarin.

Your doctor will then prescribe a medicine called clopidogrel (also known as Plavix®) and aspirin for you to take for 6 months. After that, you’ll continue to take aspirin on an ongoing basis. A very small number of patients may need to keep taking blood thinners long term.

In a clinical trial:

  • 92% of patients were able to stop taking warfarin just 45 days after the procedure
  • 99% of patients were able to stop taking warfarin within 1 year after the procedure

 

Studies of WATCHMAN

  • WATCHMAN is the only device of its kind approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for reducing the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem.
  • More than 50,000 WATCHMAN procedures have been performed worldwide. And with over 10 years of U.S. clinical studies behind it, WATCHMAN has a proven safety record.
  • In a clinical trial, WATCHMAN was implanted successfully in 95% of patients.1 In the remaining 5%, the procedure was either not attempted or not completed. This was because a pre-procedure exam showed that the patient was not qualified to receive the implant, or because a complication occurred during the procedure before WATCHMAN was implanted.
  • As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved with WATCHMAN. See the Important Safety Information below for a list of possible complications, and ask your cardiologist about the risks and benefits of WATCHMAN.

Talk to our Cardiologist

If you have atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem and you’re looking for an alternative to blood thinners, then it’s important to talk to your cardiologist about your options. Your cardiologist has the special knowledge needed to help you decide if WATCHMAN is right for you.

Tell our cardiologist about any falls or accidents, unusual bruising, or symptoms of bleeding that you’ve had while on blood thinners. And be sure to ask your cardiologist about the risks and benefits associated with WATCHMAN.

Determining Your Cost and Coverage

WATCHMAN is covered for eligible Medicare patients who meet certain national coverage criteria. It’s also covered by an increasing number of commercial insurers. Our cardiologist’s office will be able to help you find out what your coverage is.

WATCHMAN is different from blood thinners not only in how it works, but in how much it costs. While warfarin must be taken every day for life and represents an ongoing cost, WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure and one-time cost. This means WATCHMAN can save you money over time. Over a 5-year period, the estimated average out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients were lower for WATCHMAN than for warfarin.

Cardiac Services We Offer and Conditions We Treat