Major Milestone: MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute Performs 100th WATCHMAN Procedure

January 26, 2017

Most Experienced WATCHMAN Site on Mid-Atlantic Seaboard

Washington, D.C., January 26, 2017
– Marc Favors of Centreville, Va., had a stroke in 2014, and it meant he had to take daily blood thinners. But thanks to WATCHMAN™, a stroke-reducing device that he received last year at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, he’s off the drugs, and he no longer suffers from the side effects caused by the blood thinners.

WATCHMANCurrently, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore offer the device to patients who have atrial fibrillation (A-fib), an abnormal heart rhythm that causes a fast and erratic heartbeat. The two facilities have performed a total of 100 procedures since the WATCHMAN was FDA-approved in March 2015, more than any other institution from Delaware to South Carolina to date.

WATCHMAN is designed for certain patients with A-fib who are at high risk for both stroke and bleeding from long-term use of blood thinners. WATCHMAN is implanted like a heart stent, by means of a narrow tube inserted through a small incision in the upper leg. Essentially a mesh filter, it closes off the left atrial appendage (LAA), the small sub-chamber in the heart responsible for formation of harmful blood clots. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke is reduced, and after 45 days, patients may be able to stop taking blood-thinning medication altogether.

“Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with A-fib, and A-fib-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling,” said cardiac electrophysiologist Manish Shah, MD, director, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship Training Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “For patients seeking an alternative to blood-thinning medicine such as warfarin, the WATCHMAN offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option, freeing them from the prolonged use of warfarin therapy.”

On the research front, several clinical trials are underway, exploring alternative devices for closure of the left atrial appendage. “The fact that we’ll have these studies running concurrently is a testament to MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute’s great research infrastructure and safety record that’ll benefit patients,” added John Wang, MD, chief of Cardiovascular Catheterization Lab at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.

If the trials are successful, the new devices could fulfill a unique niche, and expand the number of patients who may be eligible for implant in the future. 

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So Young Pak
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