WATCHMAN™ is about the size of a quarter and made from very light and compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants. You will not be able to feel it inside your body.
The WATCHMAN™ may be right for patients who have atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib), have been recommended for blood thinning medicines by their doctor, and can take anticoagulant medications but need an alternative. In 2017, CMC began a trial that also tests the effectiveness of the WATCHMAN™in patients who have no tolerance for blood thinners.
WATCHMAN™ is implanted into your heart in a catheterization procedure. It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body. To implant WATCHMAN™, your doctor makes a small cut in your upper leg and inserts a catheter. Your doctor then guides WATCHMAN™ into the left atrial appendage (LAA) of your heart. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
Following the WATCHMAN™ procedure, you’ll likely take warfarin (a common blood thinner) for 45 days or until your LAA is permanently closed off. During this time, heart tissue will grow over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots. Your doctor will monitor this process by taking pictures of your heart to see when you can stop taking warfarin. Your doctor will then prescribe a medicine called clopidogrel (also known as Plavix®) and aspirin for you to take for six months. After that, you’ll continue to take aspirin on an ongoing basis. A very small number of patients may need to keep taking blood thinners long term.
AFib affects your heart’s ability to pump blood normally. This can cause blood to pool in the heart, most commonly in an area called the left atrial appendage, or LAA. There, blood cells can stick together and form a clot. The WATCHMAN™ implant fits right into your LAA. It’s designed to permanently close it off and prevent stroke from the most common source of blood clots.