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A heart implant device proves to be a good option

A new device that blocks off part of the heart where clots form, may protect patients at risk of stroke due to a common heart rhythm disorder, according to a study. The researchers suggest that the device may be used as an alternative to taking warfarin in the future.

The device, called Watchman, implanted in the heart is part of a large clinical study which may be an option to taking warfarin, for helping patients with irregular heart beats to prevent stroke.

Note: The device is still an experimental device and part of a clinical study. It does not have FDA approval. This article is a review of a study and is not intended to offer medical advice.

The Watchman heart device

The Watchman device is designed to keep blood clots that form in the left atrium appendage of the heart from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.

The Watchman is a fabric covered metal cage that is placed inside the heart. To implant the device, doctors pass a hollow tube through a leg vein into the heart’s right atrium. They then puncture the wall separating it from the left atrium, and implant the device through the hollow tube.

The Watchman clinical study

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, studied a group of 707 atrial fibrillation patients in the United States and Europe. Of the group; 463 were randomly assigned to have the Watchman device implanted and 244 patients received the standard treatment of warfarin.

The study results

After 16 months there were 15 strokes and 17 deaths (from all causes) in the 463 who received the Watchman device. In the 244 patients treated with warfarin there were 11 strokes and 15 deaths.

Only 3% of Watchman patients suffered a stroke, heart-related death or blood clot, compared to 5% of those treated with warfarin. About 90% of device patients were able to go off warfarin.

However, there were complications with implanting the new device. These problems did decline as the trial went on, suggesting there is a learning curve for surgeons to implant the device.

The study results will be reviewed at the American College of Cardiology’s annual conference in March in Orlando, Florida.

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2 Responses to “Heart device a good option to warfarin”

  1. I am an A-fib patient with the Watchman Implant since 9/19/11. and no problems so far with the worry of clots. Its a great help for “Peace Of Mind”. I’ve had 3 TEE procedures to date & scheduled for my next one in 2 weeks. I still have my bouts with A-fib. I’ve been shocked (6 out of 9 times for my attackts) since 10/2009. Please keep the faith in GOD, that (some day some way) these problems can be things of our Past

  2. I failed to say that I’m warfarin Free for the last (6) months

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