Lufkin Texas (April 16, 2018) – Woodland Heights is now offering patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with a newly approved implant.
For patients with AF who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the new device is an implant alternative to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke. It closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from 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 warfarin.
People with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke.1 Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in the LAA. For patients with non-valvular AF, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots.2 If a clot forms in the LAA, it can increase one’s risk of having a stroke. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body.
“The new WATCHMAN LAAC Implant provides physicians with a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with non-valvular AF,” said Vivek Mangla, MD, Electrophysiologist/Cardiologist. “For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who are seeking an alternative to warfarin, this implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.”
The implantation is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours
About Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans.3 Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling.4,5 The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of AF patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.6