In 2016, Boston Scientific selected NYU Winthrop as one of the region’s first hospitals to offer The WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AFib). This FDA-approved permanent heart implant reduces the risk of stroke for AFib patients without open-heart surgery. AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can cause poor blood flow and according to the National Stroke Association, AFib patients are five times more likely to have a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat.
AFib and Stroke
AFib can decrease the heart’s pumping capacity by as much as 30% as blood is not being pumped out of the heart normally. This allows blood cells to stick together and form clots in the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA), the small pouch-like sac in the muscle wall of the top left chamber of the heart. Once a clot leaves the LAA, it can travel to the brain and cut off the blood supply which causes a stroke. More than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA. WATCHMAN’s one-of-a-kind device effectively reduces the risk of stroke by permanently closing off the LAA to keep blood clots from forming and escaping.
To implant WATCHMAN, your doctor makes a small cut in your upper leg, inserts a narrow tube then guides WATCHMAN into your heart’s LAA. The self-expanding frame seals off the LAA and acts as a filter for blood clots to prevent a stroke. The procedure takes about an hour and is done under general anesthesia. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and are able to leave the following day.
Alternative to Blood Thinners
Many AFib patients use blood thinners such as warfarin, also known as Coumadin®, to lower the risk of stroke not caused by heart valve problems. However, people with a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts them at risk for bleeding may need an alternative to blood thinners as they can increase the risk of bleeding. WATCHMAN can eliminate the bleeding risks, regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with warfarin.
How Safe is the WATCHMAN Device?
More than 70,000 WATCHMAN procedures have been performed worldwide as of March 2019, and with over 10 years of U.S. clinical studies behind it, WATCHMAN has a proven safety record.
Why Was NYU Winthrop Selected to Offer WATCHMAN?
Based on the success of our atrial fibrillation ablation program and experience with complex left atrial procedures, NYU Winthrop was chosen by Boston Scientific as one of the first hospitals in the region to perform the WATCHMAN procedure. Today, our exceptional multidisciplinary cardiovascular physicians are the most experienced WATCHMAN team in Long Island.
What Happens After the WATCHMAN Procedure?
Once our team of trained specialists implants the WATCHMAN device in your heart, you will be monitored while the heart tissue grows over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots. After about 45 days, when your LAA is permanently closed off, your doctor will determine if you can stop taking warfarin. Your doctor then prescribes a medicine called clopidogrel, also known as Plavix®, and aspirin for six months. After that, you’ll continue to take aspirin on an ongoing basis.
Is the WATCHMAN Device Covered by Medicare?
Medicare covers WATCHMAN for eligible patients who meet certain criteria. It’s also covered by an increasing number of commercial insurers. Contact your cardiologist for details.
What Do Patients Say About WATCHMAN and NYU Winthrop?
"Dr. Germano is a dedicated and confident cardiologist who works late hours tirelessly, and whose fine-honed electrophysiology expertise has alleviated the suffering of many patients. My husband and I were grateful recipients of his care during our recent hospitalizations. NYU Winthrop is fortunate to have a cardiologist who has these skills as well as being compassionate."
- A grateful patient
NYU Winthrop's Electrophysiologists have trained at some of the best centers in the world. Our staff includes: