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MVHS Offers Innovative WATCHMAN Heart Procedure

Michael Sassower, MD

MVHS Offers Innovative WATCHMAN Heart Procedure

Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS), in partnership with Central New York (CNY) Cardiology, officially began offering the WATCHMAN procedure to the community. WATCHMAN is an innovative, one time procedure that reduces the risk of strokes that originate in the left atrial appendage (LAA). Not only does it reduce the risk of stroke, but it removes the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of blood thinners like Warfarin (also known as Coumadin®).

The WATCHMAN is a device inserted into the LAA of the heart via a small incision in the groin. The implant procedure does not require open-heart surgery and is typically performed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation.

“The WATCHMAN device is an important step forward in stroke management for patients with atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. Sassower. “A significant number of patients who should be on oral anticoagulation cannot take it for numerous reasons. WATCHMAN is a breakthrough treatment providing those patients who are suitable for blood thinners with an alternative to long-term blood thinner therapy, while still reducing the risk of stroke.”

The procedure usually lasts up to an hour with a fast and generally painless recovery, allowing the patient to be discharged the next day.

By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke can be reduced in patients with an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation) who are not suitable for blood thinners. Over time, heart tissue grows over the WATCHMAN device and the LAA is permanently sealed.

“Adding the WATCHMAN procedure to the list of services offered to our patients is just another step in the development of a comprehensive structural heart program here at MVHS,” said Dr. Amponsah. “By providing such an advanced option of care and technology with minimal down time to our patients, we are further able to provide our community with the excellence in heart care and healthcare that they deserve.”