Blood thinners are often prescribed to AFib patients to lessen their risk of stroke, but what if a patient doesn't tolerate these medications well? Here’s how the WATCHMAN™ device can help.
Atrial fibrillation and blood thinners
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat too fast and with an irregular rhythm (fibrillation). It’s estimated that over 5 million Americans currently have atrial fibrillation.
Most people diagnosed with AFib will take prescribed blood thinners to lessen the risk of having a stroke. However, blood thinners aren’t optimal for every patient, especially if they have an increased risk of bleeds or lifestyle concerns.
Using blood thinners to prevent stroke
Warfarin, along with a number of other oral blood thinners prescribed to AFib patients, slow the process of blood blotting to keep clots from forming in the body and reaching the brain, which can cause a stroke. A big concern surrounding the use of blood thinners is their ability to make minor injuries more threatening. The medication hinders the individual’s ability to heal wounds as quickly, which can result in excessive bleeding and worsen bruises. Additionally, people on blood thinners must stay away from foods containing high amounts of vitamin K, as it can impact the effectiveness of the medication.
It’s also important to keep in mind that every medication comes with possible side effects. For example, warfarin can cause adverse side effects ranging from mild symptoms (like headaches), to more serious, though rare, complications (like severe bleeding). Certain medications, including warfarin, also require regular blood testing to monitor the patient’s health.
Adapting to a careful lifestyle can be challenging for any patient, especially those who will have to be on these blood thinners for life. However, with the new WATCHMAN device, nonvalvular AFib patients incompatible with the medication may no longer have to continue taking their blood thinners.
WATCHMAN: A life-changing device for AFib patients
The WATCHMAN provides a solution that can have you off blood thinners in as little as 45 days after the procedure, as it did for 96% of patients in its clinical trial. We’re proud to now offer the WATCHMAN procedure at our hospital in Bryan. Here’s what Thomas Meade, MD, at St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital had to say about the device:
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
Check out our blog for more information on how the WATCHMAN procedure works. To discover if WATCHMAN is right for you, get in touch with our team.
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