More than 5 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation (AF): the irregular, chaotic beating of the upper chambers of the heart. AF increases your risk of stroke five times over someone with a normal heart, and most people with AF need long-term treatment to reduce the risk of a stroke.
Taking oral anti-coagulants is the most common course, but they come with complications. You may have increased risk of bleeding, negative interactions with some foods and drugs, and side effects that can be severe.
Since 90% of strokes in people with AF originate in the heart's left atrial appendage (LAA), the WATCHMAN® device can be a good alternative over long-term anti-clotting drugs. The WATCHMAN closes off the atrial appendage with a permeable 160-micron mesh that allows blood to pass through but prevents clots from entering the blood stream.
Studies show that after successful WATCHMAN implants, the risk of stroke can be reduced to the levels of a person with a normal heart. Continuing anti-coagulant medications are part of the recovery period, and aspirin is recommended indefinitely.
Consult your doctor to find out if the WATCHMAN LAA exclusion device is a good match for you.