Norton Heart Care physicians first in region to offer alternative to warfarin with newly approved Watchman implant

Watchman LAAC implant aids in reducing risk of stroke in patients with certain types of atrial fibrillation

Norton Heart Care is the first in the Louisville region to offer patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (A-fib) an alternative to taking warfarin medication long term with the newly approved Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) implant.

The first Watchman procedure was performed earlier this year, and now several local patients are seeing the full benefits of the procedure.

To date, Norton Heart Care has implanted the device through noninvasive surgery in 12 patients with the goal of reducing or eliminating their long-term warfarin therapy. Cardiologists Vincent S. DeGeare, M.D., Kent E. Morris, M.D., and D. Sean Stewart, M.D., with Norton Heart Specialists, along with Tara U. Mudd, APRN, serve on a multidisciplinary team that reviews each patient’s eligibility for the procedure as well as manages their follow-up care.

A-fib is a heart condition in which the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). It is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with A-fib, and A-fib-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling.

The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with A-fib is blood-thinning warfarin medication. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin use is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of A-fib patients eligible for warfarin are currently not taking it due to tolerance and adherence issues.

“This is a groundbreaking alternative for patients with A-fib who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians but who have reason to seek a nondrug alternative,” said Dr. Morris, clinical cardiac electrophysiologist. “The implanted device can reduce their risk of A-fib-related stroke by closing off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA 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 A-fib have a five times greater risk of stroke. A-fib can cause blood to pool and form clots in the LAA. For patients with nonvalvular A-fib, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs and other parts of the body.

“This new implant provides physicians with a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with nonvalvular A-fib,” Dr. Morris said. “For patients with nonvalvular A-fib who are seeking an alternative to warfarin, the Watchman implant offers a potentially life-changing treatment option that could free them from the challenges of long-term medication therapy.”

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.

The Watchman implant has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world.

For more information on the Watchman implant, visit watchmanimplant.com.

About Norton Healthcare

For 130 years, Norton Healthcare’s faith heritage has guided its mission to provide quality health care to all those it serves. Today, Norton Healthcare is a leader in serving adult and pediatric patients throughout Greater Louisville, Southern Indiana, the commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. The hospital and health care system is the Louisville area’s third largest private employer, providing care at more than 210 locations throughout Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana. The Louisville-based not-for-profit system includes five Louisville hospitals with 1,837 licensed beds; seven outpatient centers; 13 Norton Immediate Care Centers; more than 13,000 employees; more than 800 employed medical providers; and approximately 2,000 total physicians on its medical staff. In 2015 Norton Healthcare was named by Healthiest Employers as the 11th healthiest place to work in the country. More information about Norton Healthcare is available at NortonHealthcare.com.

About Norton Heart Care

Norton Heart Care, a part of Norton Healthcare, is the Louisville area’s leading cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment program. Each year, Norton Heart Care provides diagnostic, medical, interventional and surgical care to thousands of patients from Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Norton Heart Care treats patients at Norton Healthcare’s five hospitals and numerous diagnostic outpatient and specialty centers throughout Greater Louisville. Each facility is accredited through the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission, which ensures the highest-quality standards for diagnostic services. Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital are accredited Chest Pain Centers certified through the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. These facilities serve as regional PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) receiving centers and participate in the state’s first regional STEMI program, providing 24/7 heart attack care for patients from throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Norton Heart Care specialists also treat patients at the Heart Center at Louisville’s children’s hospital, Kentucky’s only center dedicated to treating children and adults with congenital heart defects. Norton Women’s Heart & Vascular Center on the Norton Healthcare – St. Matthews campus also is a service of Norton Heart Care. It is among the first in the nation offering diagnostic and educational services dedicated exclusively to heart disease in women. More information is available at NortonHeartCare.com.

About Boston Scientific

Boston Scientific is a worldwide developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices that are used in a broad range of interventional medical specialties. For more information, visit www.bostonscientific.com.


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