Left Atrial Appendage Closure Procedure
In people with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), not caused by a heart valve issue, stroke is a serious risk. More than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the left atrial appendage, which is an out-pouching of tissue in the left atrium of the heart. If you are a patient with A-fib who has an increased risk of stroke, your doctor will recommend that you take a blood-thinning medicine. If you are unable to take a blood thinner because of risk of bleeding or falls, your doctor may recommend a procedure to implant a device to block off your left atrial appendage, which would prevent stroke-causing clots from forming there.
The Watchman is a permanent, implant-based alternative to the long-term use of blood thinners, such as warfarin. The procedure has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke without the long-term increased risk of bleeding associated with chronic use of blood thinners.
The Watchman is about the size of a quarter and made from very light and compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants. It is designed to permanently close off the left atrial appendage and keep blood clots from forming in this area of the heart, significantly decreasing your risk of stroke.
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute has been performing Watchman implants since 2016, which is longer than any other hospital system in Louisville or Southern Indiana.
Benefits of a Left Atrial Appendage Closure
There are many benefits of having a left atrial appendage closure procedure with the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute team. They include:
- Reduced risk of stroke from blot clots formed in the left atrial appendage
- Eventual discontinuation of blood thinner, in most cases 45 days after the procedure
- Minimally invasive, with no stitches needed
- Short (overnight) hospital stay
Who Is a Candidate for the Watchman Implant Procedure?
You may be a candidate if you:
- Have A-fib that is not related to heart valve disease (non-valvular atrial fibrillation) and are at an increased risk of stroke
- Have a history of major bleeding while taking blood thinners
- Have a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for bleeding
How Is the Procedure Performed?
A specially trained cardiologist inserts flexible wires (catheters) into a blood vessel in the groin and guides the Watchman device into the heart. Once the device is in the correct place, the physician sets the implant to permanently seal off the left atrial appendage. Over time, heart tissue grows over the implant. The procedure takes place in an electrophysiology lab under general anesthesia and lasts about an hour.
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute has a state-of-the-art electrophysiology lab at Norton Hospital where this procedure is performed.
Heart and Vascular Care for the Whole Person
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for men and women of all ages seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.
Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.
The group provides education and support to men and women after a heart attack, living with a heart condition or at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers classes about once a week on a broad range of heart health topics including cooking classes, atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and heart failure education workshops, and more.
About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists treat more people for heart and vascular care — about 250,000 every year — than any other provider in Louisville and Southern Indiana.
- Norton Healthcare’s four adult-service hospitals are American College of Cardiology accredited Cycle VI Chest Pain Centers — the highest level of expertise to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.
- We have more than 45 board-certified cardiovascular physicians and 30 advanced practice providers. Through training and years of experience, they specialize in areas such as cardiology, interventional cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, electrophysiology, advanced heart failure and vascular surgery.
- We offer same-day new patient appointments.
- We have 27 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Telecardiology is offered at more than 30 clinical sites in the region.
- We have the experience, expertise and easy access you’d expect from the largest cardiovascular care provider in Kentucky.
- Norton Healthcare is the only health care system in Kentucky to receive the prestigious Mission Lifeline: Regional Trailblazer Award from the American Heart Association for being an innovator in creating a system of care for ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attacks — the most severe type of heart attack.