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Bowling Green, Ky. (June 10, 2019) – The Medical Center at Bowling Green is the first and only hospital in our region to offer the WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device for patients at risk of stroke due to Atrial Fibrillation (AF). The WATCHMAN device is an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners such as warfarin in people with AF not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AF). It is also the only device approved by the FDA for stroke prevention.
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. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.
“The WATCHMAN device is an important alternative for patients with non-valvular AF at risk for a stroke, especially those with a compelling reason not to be on blood thinners,” said Deepak Gaba, MD, Electrophysiologist with Sahetya Medical Group. “I’m proud to have performed the very first implant of this device at The Medical Center at Bowling Green as it offers our patients potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment.”
About Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF) 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. 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 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.