The watchman device is a small, implantable device that can effectively reduce the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib). If you or someone you know has AFib, it can be a worrisome condition as it greatly increases the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular problems.
Fortunately, medical technology has advanced to provide a solution that can help reduce this risk. In this article, we will explore the functionality of the Watchman device, how it works, its benefits, insertion procedure, and potential complications.
What is the Watchman Device?
The Watchman device is an implantable medical device that’s used to prevent blood clots from forming in the left atrial appendage (LAA), which is a small sac in the left atrium of the heart. The LAA is prone to forming blood clots, which can travel to the brain and lead to a stroke. The Watchman device closes off the LAA, which helps to prevent blood from pooling in the area and reduces the risk of stroke.
How Does the Watchman Device Work?
The Watchman device works by closing off the LAA using a small umbrella-like structure. The procedure is minimally invasive, involving only a small incision in the groin area. The device is guided through a very small tube, or catheter, and into the heart, where it is positioned at the opening of the LAA and expanded to fit snuggly within it. Blood can no longer enter the LAA and pool to form clots, thus reducing the risk of afib-related stroke.
Benefits of the Watchman Device
There are several benefits to the Watchman device, including a reduced risk of stroke, fewer side effects than blood-thinning medications, and a reduced risk of bleeding. Patients with the Watchman device can typically stop taking blood-thinning medications, which can be a complicated and sometimes frustrating process, and avoid their many related complications.
The procedure involves a small incision in the groin through which the device is introduced. X-rays are used to guide the device through the vein and into the heart. The device is then expanded in order to fit snuggly within the opening of the LAA. The entire procedure normally takes about an hour to hour and a half.
As with any medical device or procedure, there is always the potential for complications. While the Watchman device has a safe and effective track record, there are some risks involved. The most common risks include bleeding, infection, and swelling at the incision site, as well as complications from the device itself such as shifting or dislodging, which may require additional procedures to correct.
The Watchman device is a minimally invasive and effective solution for patients with AFib who are at risk of stroke. It reduces the risk of stroke, the need for blood-thinning medications, and related risks of bleeding. While the procedure is safe and effective, it is still important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor to determine if the device is right for you. Understanding the functionality of the Watchman device can help you make more informed decisions about your treatment options and better protect your health.