For Immediate Release
For more information, contact Dina Fassino, 651-232-1613.
SAINT PAUL, Minn.—April 7, 2016—Last week, HealthEast, recognized for its dedication to optimal health and patient care, became the first health care provider in the Twin Cities to perform procedures to implant Boston Scientific Corporation’s WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device. The first device of its kind, the WATCHMAN reduces the risk of stroke in high-risk patients who suffer from an irregular heartbeat, or non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), by keeping harmful blood clots from entering the blood stream.
The procedures were performed at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., by Stuart Adler, MD and Yoaav Krauthammer, MD, both HealthEast cardiac electrophysiologists. The two patients who received the devices have long-suffered from AF and have had difficulty regulating their anticoagulation medications.
According to Adler, the estimated five million Americans who suffer from AF are often at an increased risk of stroke due to blood stagnating from the improperly beating atrium, forming clots and entering the blood stream. While there are anticoagulant therapies, or blood thinners, such as warfarin, to address this risk, not all patients are candidates for long-term use of those therapies due to a significant risk for bleeding complications and numerous quality-of-life tradeoffs, including dietary restrictions, regular blood monitoring, and activity-level reductions. As a result, many patients had no suitable treatment options for AF prior to the FDA’s 2015 approval of the WATCHMAN.
“Because of the negative side effects associated with their long-term oral anticoagulant therapies, these patients needed an alternative solution to manage their AF and reduce the risk of stroke associated with that condition,” said Adler. “The WATCHMAN provided them with a much-needed and life-altering treatment option.”
Krauthammer added that both implant procedures were successful. “It’s incredibly rewarding to make a meaningful difference in a patient’s life,” he said. “I anticipate that both of the individuals who received the implants will enjoy a greatly improved quality of life along with the peace of mind of knowing their AF is being managed and their stroke risk significantly reduced.”
The size of a quarter, the WATCHMAN works by closing off the left atrial appendage of the heart, the source of more than 90 percent of stroke-causing blood clots that come from the heart in people with AF.