The Watchman For Atrial Fibrillation, Only at The Heart Hospital

For some patients with atrial fibrillation, The Heart Hospital at St. Joseph’s/Candler is now the only hospital in the region to offer a minimally-invasive device that prevents the formation of blood clots and drastically reduces the risk of stroke. 

It is called The Watchman and it is recommended for patients with afib who cannot safely take blood-thinners long term. 

The Heart Hospital is the region’s leading provider of cardiovascular care and the first to bring minimally-invasive medical break-throughs like transcatheter aortic valve replacement, afib ablations and congenital heart hole closures to Savannah.

The Watchman

How The Watchman Works

For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, the left atrial appendage (LAA) is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots.  If a clot forms in the LAA, it can increase one’s risk of having a stroke five-fold.

The Watchman is about the size of a quarter and shaped like an umbrella.  An intervential cardiologist snakes The Watchman on a catheter through a small hole in the patient's leg and up through a vein into the heart. The Watchman is then expanded, sealing off the LAA.  This prevents clots from forming and breaking loose to the brain, lungs or other parts of the body.  The tissue in the heart eventually seals over the device allowing for the safe discontinuation of warfarin.

The entire procedure only takes an hour and doesn't require open surgery. Most patients are usually discharged the next day. While there is no surgical incision or extended recovery time, patient are typically discharge on a short course of warfarin following implant for 45 days.

More than 90 percent of those who received the implant stopped taking the blood thinner warfarin after 45 days. 

Are You A Candidate For The Watchman?

If you are living with afib and also have one of the following conditions:

  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • a brain bleed
  • easy bruising
  • high fall risk due to activity level or occupation

you may qualify for this newly available therapy.  For more information, please call (912) 819-AFIB.