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 Regional Hospital in Bryan, TX, which recently introduced the WATCHMAN procedure

Lowering the Brazos Valley’s Stroke Rate With WATCHMAN™

Posted in: Blogs , English

WATCHMAN™ is now the most studied and implanted left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) device in the world. This technology gives patients with non-valvular Afib an alternative to life-long blood thinners—a notable treatment opportunity for those who don’t tolerate or have adherence issues with warfarin. And on July 14, 2021, St. Joseph Health became the first provider of the WATCHMAN procedure in the Brazos Valley when Thomas Meade, MD, Rodney Horton, MD, and Zoltan Toth, MD, successfully implanted next-generation WATCHMAN FLX™ devices at Regional Hospital in Bryan.  

“People with AFib are at significantly higher risk of stroke. St. Joseph is proud to be able to offer the WATCHMAN FLX procedure to them to help with their stroke prevention,” said Theron Park, market president of St. Joseph Health. He continued:

“For decades, St. Joseph has been bringing new life-saving services and procedures to the people in the Brazos Valley to improve the health and wellness of our community. This new procedure is another reminder of that commitment.”

Effective care for nonvalvular atrial fibrillation

Currently, over 150,000 NVAF patients have successfully gone off blood thinners after undergoing the WATCHMAN procedure. This one-time, minimally invasive procedure protects these patients for life. With a 98.8% success rate and a 0.5% risk of major complications, 96.2% of patients who have WATCHMAN implanted are able to discontinue their blood thinners at 45 days post-procedure. 

For those who do not tolerate these medications well—whether due to a previous bleed, future bleed risk, or lifestyle factors—this device provides the opportunity to lower stroke risk by 55%, major bleeding by 72%, and overall decreases the risk of mortality by 27% when compared to patients who take warfarin.

How the WATCHMAN device is implanted

In a procedure that usually lasts less than an hour, WATCHMAN is implanted using a standard percutaneous technique and routed to the heart through the femoral vein. Using fluoroscopy and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), the interatrial septum is crossed using a standard transseptal access system. Once navigated into the distal portion of the LAA over a pigtail catheter, the WATCHMAN device is deployed and released. Heart tissue then grows over the implant, permanently sealing the LAA. Patients remain on blood thinners for 45 days post-procedure or until there is an adequate seal.

Once sealed, blood clots can no longer form in the LAA, significantly reducing patients’ risk of stroke. 

Bringing innovative care to Central Texas

“The WATCHMAN FLX device is a new alternative for patients with nonvalvular AFib who are at risk for a stroke, especially those with a compelling reason not to be on blood thinners,” said Thomas Meade, MD, electrophysiologist at St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital. “I’m proud to have performed the first of many implants of this device at St. Joseph, as it offers patients potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment.” 

Our experienced electrophysiology team is dedicated to providing innovative care for our patients in the Brazos Valley, both for those with AFib as well as other heartbeat abnormalities and arrhythmias. To refer a patient or learn more about the WATCHMAN procedure, contact our team today.


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