Atrial fibrillation, or "AFib" for short, affects about 2.5 million Americans. Patients with the heart condition are five times more likely to have a stroke. Now, a new device is "watching out" for people with AFib and it is stopping strokes, without the need for drugs.
John Kocevar always keeps up with the news of the day, but it was news from his doctor several years ago that changed his life.
"He told me what I had and what my options were," Kocevar told Ivanhoe.
John has AFib, a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat. Nearly one in three patients with it will have a stroke. To lower that risk, John takes blood thinners, but they require frequent blood tests and can cause dangerous bleeding.
Kocevar explained, "I fell, hit my head, you have to go to the emergency room when you're on blood thinners."
Now there's a new option. It's called the "Watchman".
Oussama Wazni, MD, Co-Director of the Ventricular Arrhythmia Center at Cleveland Clinic told Ivanhoe, "The Watchman device is basically if you want a clot catcher."
The device is inserted through the patient's groin and up to the left atrial appendage of the heart. Once there, it closes the appendage. The "Watchman" catches blood clots so they can't travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Most patients who have the procedure are able to quit taking their blood thinners.
"So it prevents stroke and also decreases the risk of bleeding in these patients," Dr. Wazni explained.
John had the procedure and hopes to get off his blood thinners soon. He says the device gives him peace of mind.
Kocevar said, "It's a protector, and it's something that I'm grateful to have the opportunity to participate in."
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Cleveland Clinic Media Relations
Watchman: "Watching Out" for AFib Patients
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