First Patient Successfully Implanted with St. Joseph Health's WATCHMAN FLX™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device


(Bryan, Texas, July 15, 2021) -- Thomas Meade, MD, Electrophysiologist at St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital performed the hospital's first implant of the next-generation WATCHMAN FLX™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device on a patient with atrial fibrillation (Afib) on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. St. Joseph Health is the only hospital in the Brazos Valley to offer the WATCHMAN FLX™ device, built upon the most studied and implanted LAAC device in the world, as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with Afib not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular Afib).

An estimated six million Americans are affected by Afib – an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart.1 People with Afib have a five times greater risk of stroke2 than those with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN FLX device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the bloodstream 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 blood thinners. The next-generation technology has a new design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.

"The WATCHMAN FLX device is a new alternative for patients with non-valvular 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."

The WATCHMAN device has been implanted in more than 150,000 patients worldwide and is done in a one-time procedure. It's a permanent device that doesn't have to be replaced and can't be seen outside the body. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day. In addition to Dr. Meade performing this new procedure, Dr. Rodney Horton will also perform this procedure at St. Joseph.

"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, St. Joseph Health. "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."

About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) 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 AFrelated strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. 1,2 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.5 For more information on the WATCHMAN device, please visit: www.watchman.com

About St. Joseph Health: Since 1936 St. Joseph Health has been caring for the communities of Bryan, College Station, Brenham, Hearne, Navasota, Caldwell and Madisonville. With the area's only Level II Emergency and Trauma Center, the first Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Center and the first accredited Chest Pain Center in the Brazos Valley, St. Joseph Health is a leader in critical care and the largest provider of cardiovascular care in the region. St. Joseph Health is an academic and clinical partner of Texas A&M Health Science Center. Together, the St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network includes over 100 employed primary care physicians, specialists and advanced practice clinicians. As an active member of the Brazos Valley, St. Joseph Health is a leader in providing compassionate care and committed to the overall health of the community To learn more, visit St-Joseph.org. [For more information, please contact Marketing Director Heather Bush at 713-823-9493 or [email protected]]

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1. Benjamin EJ, Muntner P, Alonso A, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2019 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2019;137:e1-e473
2. National Stroke Association. Making the Afib-Stroke Connection.
https://www.stroke.org/sites/default/files/resources/AfibConnection%20for%20hcp.pdf. Published 2012. Accessed September 1, 2016

Publish Date: 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

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