New Mexico Heart Institute Offering An Alternative to Long-Term Warfarin Medication
Newly Approved WATCHMAN LAAC Device
To Help Patients with Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation
Albuquerque, NM – New Mexico Heart Institute now offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to long-term blood-thinning medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) 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 WATCHMAN LAAC Implant is an implant alternative to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke. The WATCHMAN Implant 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.
“This newly approved implant provides patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy,” said Sean Mazer, MD, FHRS, FACC, and president of New Mexico Heart Institute. “Warfarin, or Coumadin as its also known, can be very challenging for some patients to use. For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, this is a breakthrough in stroke risk reduction.”
New Mexico Heart Institute was the first in the state to implant the device as it was going through FDA clinical studies. Approximately 3.5 million individuals might qualify for this alternative to blood thinning medication. Long-term use of blood thinners is not appropriate for some individuals and this newly approved implant provides these individuals a life-time solution.
“This is a life changing procedure for individuals who have struggled with Warfarin or anti-coagulant therapies,” said Dr. Michael Bestawros, MD, MPH and an electrophysiologist at New Mexico Heart Institute. “Atrial fibrillation is most common in older individuals and we have an aging population. This new implant gives us an additional tool to help people live healthier lives.”
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.
Implanting the WATCHMAN Device 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
The WATCHMAN Implant is designed to close the LAA in order to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke for higher risk patients with non-valvular AF. The WATCHMAN Implant has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world. For more information on the WATCHMAN Implant, please visit: watchmanimplant.com.
New Mexico Heart Institute is one of the leading cardiology teams in the Southwest with more than 28 staff surgeons and cardiologists, all of which are board certified. NMHI practices state-of-the-art medicine by employing the latest cardiovascular imaging and fully integrated interventional, cardiothoracic, and vascular surgical approaches. The Institute’s services, a number of which are conducted in conjunction with the Heart Hospital of New Mexico, located next door, address a full-range of preventive, diagnostic, treatment, surgical, and rehabilitation needs. In addition, NMHI’s Clinical Research Department is represented by a team of full-time research coordinators who are dedicated to carrying out the research component of our mission through heightened patient knowledge, the development of new therapies, and the innovation of new technologies. For more information, go to www.nmhi.
Boston Scientific is a worldwide developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices that are used in a broad range of interventional medical specialties. For more information, please visit: www.bostonscientific.com.
- Holmes DR, Seminars in Neurology 2010; 30:528–536
- Blackshear J. and Odell J., Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 1996;61:755-759
- Colilla et al., Am J Cardiol. 2013; 112:1142-1147
- Hart RG, Halperin JL., Ann Intern Med. 1999; 131:688–695
- McGrath ER, Neurology 2013; 81:825-832
- Waldo, AL. JACC 2005; 46:1729-1736.
WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device from Boston Scientific
The WATCHMAN Device is a permanent implant designed to close the left atrial appendage in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke. With all medical procedures there are risks associated with the implant procedure and the use of the device. The risks include but are not limited to accidental heart puncture, periprocedural bleeding, anesthesia risks, bleeding or throat pain from the TEE (Trans Esophageal Echo) probe, blood clot or air bubbles in the lungs or other organs, bruising at the catheter insertion site, or clot formation on the WATCHMAN™ Closure Device. In rare cases death can occur. Be sure to talk with your doctor so that you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the implantation of the WATCHMAN Device.