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Did you know that the human heart has its own version of an appendix? It’s called the left atrial appendage, and just like the actual appendix in the abdomen, it has a tendency to create problems—especially for people who live with AFIB.

“AFIB in and of itself isn’t generally lifethreatening,” says Jeffrey C. Liu, M.D., St. Clair’s Director of Electrophysiology. “But it can be a major cause of blood clots that lead to a stroke. When a clot forms, 90 percent of the time it forms in the left atrial appendage.”

For the majority of AFIB patients who are at risk of stroke, blood thinners are the best solution for helping to prevent clots. However, long-term use of blood thinners has also been shown to cause bleeding problems for many patients.

The Watchman™ implant is indicated for people 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
  • can take short-term blood thinners but need an alternative

Afib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. Afib can cause blood to pool into the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) and form clots. Those clots can travel through the body and cause a stroke.

The WATCHMANFLX is a small, flexible implant about the size of a quarter.

The device is implanted in the LAA (left atrial appendage) and acts as a “plug” to prevent blood clots from forming in the appendage. An anticoagulation medication is prescribed for 45 days after the procedure and then a transesophageal echocardiogram is performed to ensure that the device is sealed in the LAA.   If sealed, the anticoagulation medication is stopped and a different type of medication is prescribed to help prevent clots from forming.

For more information about St. Clair’s Watchman™ procedure and our team of experts, please call 412.660.2899. 

Cardiovascular Services

St. Clair’s cardiac-related services include Diagnostics, Cardiac MRI, Cardiac Cath Lab, Structural Heart Program, Electrophysiology, Cardiac Surgery, Cardiac Rehab and Wellness, and more. This “one-stop” approach reduces stress on patients and their families and creates a seamless treatment and support plan. Click below to learn more. 

Watchman™ Presentation

Dr. Jeffrey Liu’s video presentation on the Watchman™ device that discusses how this procedure can minimize a patient’s risk of stroke.