Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device

Overview

Atrial fibrillation occurs when the two upper chambers of your heart (atria) beat irregularly and fast. This can cause blood clots to form within these upper chambers, putting you at risk for stroke. Most patients with atrial fibrillation take blood thinners (oral anticoagulants) to prevent clots from forming, but if your physician feels blood thinners are not safe for you and you are at risk for stroke – you may benefit from a left atrial appendage closure device.

The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small, ear-shaped pouch in the left atrium (top left chamber of the heart). Closing it off may reduce your risk of stroke. Some benefits of implanting the device are that it:

  • Reduces risk of stroke in patients with AFib
  • Eliminates long-term need for blood thinners
  • Reduces serious bleeding risks caused by blood thinners
  • Requires only a short hospital stay, usually just one night

A left atrial appendage closure device procedure, such as the WATCHMAN implant procedure, is a cutting-edge treatment option that does all of the above. It is currently only available at a few hospitals in the United States, including Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.

What to Expect

Your doctor will do an echocardiogram and choose an LAA closure device that’s the right size for you. You’ll receive anesthetics, a catheter will be inserted through a blood vessel to the left atrium or upper chamber, and the device will be implanted. You’ll be monitored throughout your procedure and recovery.

Recovery

You’ll probably be discharged the same day, so be sure you have someone with you who can drive you home. One to 2 days after the procedure, you should be able to drive again. You’ll need to take blood thinners for 4 to 6 weeks.  

Your doctor will provide a detailed follow-up plan for you, to help ensure you have the best possible results.

WATCHMAN Implant Procedure

What is the WATCHMAN implant procedure?

  • The WATCHMAN is a permanent implant that is placed in the heart’s left atrial appendage.
  • The implant procedure typically lasts about an hour and patients usually spend one night in the hospital.
  • The implant helps reduce the risk of stroke by preventing blood clots from leaving the heart.
  • Find an Aurora Cardiologist to learn more about the benefits and risks of the WATCHMAN procedure.
WATCHMAN Device 2 implant reduces stroke risk.

Image provided courtesy of Boston Scientific. © 2019
Boston Scientific Corporation or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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