Atrial fibrillation, the leading cause of stroke, is a condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat too fast and irregularly. This causes blood to pool and can form clots in part of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). If a blood clot forms, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Drugs can cut the risk of blood clots that could lead to stroke in AFib. While warfarin is effective for many patients, long-term use is not well tolerated by some, due to a variety of reasons (i.e., risk of bleeding, food limits, or frequent blood draws).
The WATCHMANTM device is a new alternative to blood-thinning drugs in patients with atrial fibrillation. It is placed inside the LAA of the heart to permanently close off this small pouch and keep harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream. After the procedure, most patients are able to stop taking blood-thinning drugs.