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CMC First in New England to Offer WATCHMAN Implant to Atrial Fibrillation Patients

CMC is the First Hospital in New England to offer an alternative to Long-Term Warfarin Medication with the newly approved WATCHMANTM LAAC Implant

May 26, 2015—Catholic Medical Center is the first hospital in New England to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with the newly FDA approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant.

For patients with AF who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians, but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN LAAC Implant is an implant alternative to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke.  The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.  By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.   

People with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke.1 Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in the LAA.  For patients with non-valvular AF, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots.2  If a clot forms in the LAA, it can increase one’s risk of having a stroke. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body.

afib; watchmanThis is a promising technology that has shown success in clinical trials,” said Connor Haugh, MD, FACC, cardiologist, New England Heart & Vascular Institute at CMC. “We are delighted to be able to offer our suitable patients an FDA approved alternative to anticoagulation therapies.”

Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours and continue taking an anticoagulant course for approximately six weeks. Before medications are discontinued, patients undergo a follow-up test to confirm that the LAA is closed. 

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About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans.3 Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling.4,5  The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication.  Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications.  Nearly half of AF patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.6


1. Holmes DR, Seminars in Neurology 2010; 30:528–536
2. Blackshear J. and Odell J., Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 1996;61:755-759  
3. Colilla et al., Am J Cardiol. 2013; 112:1142-1147 
4. Hart RG, Halperin JL., Ann Intern Med. 1999; 131:688–695
5. McGrath ER, Neurology 2013; 81:825-832
6. Waldo, AL. JACC 2005; 46:1729-1736.

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