The Medical Center at Bowling Green has completed its 100th Watchman procedure and remains the only hospital in Southcentral Kentucky to offer the WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device to patients at risk of stroke due to Atrial Fibrillation (AF). The WATCHMAN device is an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners in people with AF not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AF).
The WATCHMAN device is implanted in a one-time procedure to close off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). The LAA is a non-essential part of the heart where blood clots can form in patients with AF, increasing the risk of stroke. The device is permanent— it 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. More than 150,000 WATCHMAN devices have been implanted, and 96% of patients are able to discontinue their blood thinner about 6 weeks after the implant.
Sandeep Chhabra, M.D. and Muhammad Akbar, M.D perform WATCHMAN procedures together in the Cardiac Cath Lab at The Medical Center at Bowling Green. “Reaching the 100th case is a significant moment for this whole team, because it represents a collaborative effort in which so many individuals and specialties come together to ensure a safe and successful implant for every patient,” says Laura Bailey, BSN, RN, Structural Heart Program Coordinator for Med Center Health. Brandy Villarreal, RN, MSN, CNML, Director of Cardiac Services, states, “Most importantly, this milestone represents our organization’s continued commitment to improving stroke prevention within our community.”
About Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning medication. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term blood-thinning medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. For more information about cardiac services offered by Med Center Health, visit MedCenterHealth.org.