Dr. Joaquin Martinez performed the implant of the next-generation WATCHMAN™ device on a patient with atrial fibrillation (AF). The hospital is one of the first to offer the WATCHMAN FLX™ device, built upon the most studied and implanted left atrial appendage (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).
Up to six million Americans 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. The WATCHMAN FLX device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner, such as warfarin. The 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, the WATCHMAN FLX 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,” shares Dr. Martinez. “I’m proud to have performed the implant of this device at The Heart Hospital of Northwest Texas, as it offers another patient a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment and will allow us to treat a broader range of patients going forward.”
The WATCHMAN technology has been implanted in more than 150,000 patients worldwide and is performed in a one-time procedure. It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and cannot be seen outside the body. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.