Another First for CMC’s New England Heart & Vascular Institute 

Next-generation WATCHMAN™ FLX opens up options for AFib patients 

Published 9/3/2020

Catholic Medical Center’s New England Heart & Vascular Institute has passed another milestone in its acclaimed heart care as the team in the Electrophysiology Lab implanted the first WATCHMAN FLX™ in New England.  

The WATCHMAN™ is a device that dramatically reduces the risk of stroke in patients who have non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib). The irregular heart beat brought on by AFib can cause a blood clot, which then has the potential to travel to the brain and cause a stroke.  

Patients with non-valvular AFib are typically treated with blood thinners, but not everyone can tolerate the medication over the long term. The WATCHMAN™, initially approved in 2015, has proved successful for these patients. The implant closes off the heart’s left atrial appendage, where blood commonly pools and clots, thereby reducing the risk of stroke. The FLX™ model, recently approved by the FDA, has a new design which makes it easier to place, especially in patients with complicated anatomies.  

"The new WATCHMAN FLX™ device demonstrated a 98.8% success rate of implantation. This device may enable us to offer this therapy to an expanded population," says Dr. Jamie Kim, Director of Electrophysiology at CMC’s New England Heart & Vascular Institute, who performed the first implant on August 12th. Dr. Kim was a principal investigator in the PINNACLE FLX IDE study which led to FDA approval of the device. Drs. Connor Haugh, Robert Capodilupo, Stephen Hanlon and Ido Preis were also investigators in the pivotal study.  

According to Boston Scientific, which developed the WATCHMAN FLX™, nearly all patients in the study were able to discontinue their blood thinners 45 days after the procedure.

"For patients with non-valvular AFib who are in need of an alternative to blood thinners like warfarin, the implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option," says Dr. Kim.  

Dr. Kim, assisted by Dr. Robert Capodilupo,  performed the procedure August 12th. The patient spent the night in the hospital and was sent home the next day.

In the photo (left to right): Alicia O’Grady, Lead Clinical RN; Justin Gilmartin, Clinical Field Representative, Boston Scientific; Robert Capodilupo, MD; Jamie Kim, MD; Scott Pippin, Northeast Strategic Account Manager, Boston Scientific, after the first WATCHMAN FLX implant in New England, conducted at CMC in August.