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WATCHMAN™

Reducing AFib-related Stroke Risk

The average person with atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is five times more likely to have a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat. That’s because AFib can decrease the heart’s pumping capacity by as much as 30 percent! Because blood isn’t pumped out of the heart normally, clots can form in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage, or LAA. If a clot escapes into the bloodstream, it can travel up to the brain and cause a stroke.

In atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart valve problem, blood thinners are an effective way to lower stroke risk. However, some people don’t tolerate blood thinners well. Blood thinners can increase the risk of bleeding. If you have a job or active lifestyle that puts you at risk for injury, your doctor may consider an alternative to blood thinners, such as the WATCHMAN FLXTM Implant. A one-time procedure to implant the WATCHMAN FLX Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) device could reduce your stroke risk for a lifetime.

How Does the WATCHMAN FLX work?

An Alternative to Blood Thinners

The WATCHMAN FLX implant permanently closes off the LAA to keep blood clots from escaping. WATCHMAN FLX:

  • Effectively closes off the LAA to reduce stroke risk
  • Eliminates the use of blood thinners over time
  • Eliminates blood-thinner related bleeding risks, regular blood tests, and food-and-drink restrictions

In clinical trial, 96% of people were able to stop taking blood thinners just 45 days after the WATCHMAN FLX procedure.

Made from very light and compact materials, the WATCHMAN FLX left atrial implant is about the size of a quarter. To implant the device, the doctor makes a small cut in the femoral vein in the patient’s thigh. Using guided imaging, a narrow catheter is threaded up the vein to the heart’s LAA. Then, the WATCHMAN FLX device is introduced through the catheter and positioned in place to close off the left atrial appendage. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and typically takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.

Over the next six weeks, heart tissue grows over the WATCHMAN FLX implant, forming a permanent barrier against blood clots. Patients continue to take a blood thinner for about 45 days, until their left atrial appendage is permanently closed off.