Any experences with Watchman Implant for A-Fib?

Posted by Tresjur @tresjur, Oct 5, 2017

I've been living with A-Fib for close to 20 years now. I took warfarin for 14 of those years and then switched to Pradaxa. After being on Pradaxa for 8 months, I started having GI bleeds and over the course of 14 months I had 8 blood transfusions. After ending up with a hemogloblin count of 5 and
an INR of 9, I ended up in ICU. After my release, and lengthy discussions with my cardiologist, we decided that my body could no longer tolerate the
blood thinners. For three years I went without any A-fib treatment and a year ago I started taking a full dose aspirin daily.

Early this summer I saw the TV ads for the Watchman, for people who cannot take blood thinners. It's an jellyfish looking implant that is inserted in the
left atrial appendage of the heart. After implantation, heart tissue will grow over the device and provide blockage of clots that could travel to the brain.
I had the implantation done on September 13th, which requires an overnight stay in the hospital, and will be on Eliquis and an aspirin for about 45 days, then I will just take an aspirin daily for the rest of my life.

From reading the pros and cons of this device, it is my understanding that it does not work any better than blood thinners, but is an option for those who
cannot take the thinners. My first visit with the electrophysiologist is 2 weeks from today and at the end of October, I will undergo another TEE to determine
if all is working well.

I lived the 3 plus years not being on blood thinners with the though of stroke in the back of my mind. Even though I realize that nothing is 100% guaranteed or successful, I do have some relief now that I am again under treatment.

I'm posting this experience and wondering if anyone else has undergone this procedure and may be further along in their journey. It has been only 22 days
since my implant. I'm doing well so far and have not had a problem with the Eliquis so far.

Regards,
Mary

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Heart Rhythm Conditions Support Group.

@phoenix1647

It took me almost 3 years before I decided to do the watchman. I have friends that did the ablation and they were not happy with the results. My cardiologist recommended the watchman due to the high number of AFIB episodes I was having. I did all the research online about the watchman I could do. There really is not a lot of great info out there. Once I decided, I went for it. Now I will have to wait until they come out with the new devices.

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Have you been on blood thinners while you were deciding to have the watchman procedure, as a result of having afib?

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@phoenix1647

Starfirey2k…May I suggest that whoever goes with you for the procedure, bring a couple small jello packs. Maybe some sort of snacks for when you get in your room. What I wanted most when I woke up was something cold to drink. The sandwich was just too dry for me to get down and something like jello would have helped. I wish you well in getting your device.

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all good advice, thanks

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@starfirey2k

Have you been on blood thinners while you were deciding to have the watchman procedure, as a result of having afib?

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I was on thinners a few years ago but have developed internal bleeding so had to stop.Had a big bleed back in 2017 and needed 2 units of blood. They still can't find the source of my bleeding although it has not been a problem for a while now. Being on blood thinners was a big issue with my GI team. It took a lot to get them on board for the watchman.

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@starfirey2k

Have you been on blood thinners while you were deciding to have the watchman procedure, as a result of having afib?

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Did you get your assessment done for the watchman? Answer a few questions and they assign points to your answers to see if you are eligible for the watchman. Your cardi does that.

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@phoenix1647

I was to have a watchman device implanted on Dec 22.2020. The procedure was a failure in that out of 3 devices, none would seal off the opening. Very disappointed in this. Surgeon said the rep from the makers told him they are coming out with newer devices that will be more flexable sometime in Feb, Mar, Apr timeframe. I am on the list to get one of those. The procedure itself was full of surprises for me. Please make sure you know what is going to happen in your procedure.

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I have a friend who had a watchman installed. He had a second stroke anyway. I guess there are no guarantees.

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@jfperrone

I have a friend who had a watchman installed. He had a second stroke anyway. I guess there are no guarantees.

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First, let us remember, we are discussing the "watchman" device. the watchman device DOES NOT protect your entire body from blood clots. it is only designed to prevent the blood clots caused by afib in the LAA, to not form in that pocket. that is the only purpose of the "watchman" for some reason every discussion I have seen about the watchman seems to assume that the watchman will protect you against all blood clots in your body. just to be clear, it does not. so, yes even if you have a watchman you can still get blood clots….Wishing everyone here a happy new year, and hopefully a better year.

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@jfperrone

I have a friend who had a watchman installed. He had a second stroke anyway. I guess there are no guarantees.

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The watchman prevents blood clots from forming in the heart. Blood clots can be formed in any part of the body. So your friends blood clot could have come from the leg or a wound of some sort not related to the heart. Sorry your friend had a stroke, I know those can be bad.

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@phoenix1647

I was to have a watchman device implanted on Dec 22.2020. The procedure was a failure in that out of 3 devices, none would seal off the opening. Very disappointed in this. Surgeon said the rep from the makers told him they are coming out with newer devices that will be more flexable sometime in Feb, Mar, Apr timeframe. I am on the list to get one of those. The procedure itself was full of surprises for me. Please make sure you know what is going to happen in your procedure.

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Thank you. We often go blindly trusting to a new doctor.

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@hopalongnm3

Thank you. We often go blindly trusting to a new doctor.

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When my cardi first mentioned Watchman, I got on the internet and searched for all the information I could find. I am a person that wants to know everything I can learn about a procedure or medical condition I might have. There is a lot of info out there about the watchman…..all of it is basely the same. The official Watchman website has a lot written but does not really give that good of information. At least not what I was looking for. The official Watchman website is there for one thing only…..sell their product. I have read many write-ups from hospitals, clinics, etc about what the Watchman does and how it is supposed to work and very little about how it is put in a heart. I found ONE site that did say," if a watchman is installed, to remove it for any reason will require open heart surgery". Hmmmm…I don't recall reading that on the official Watchman website.
My first thought was "so, this thing only stops blood clots coming from LAA…I can still get a stroke from clots from other places Why bother getting the watchman." Then my cardi reminded me of how many AFIBs I was having. She said "every AFIB episode has the potential of causing a blood clot and stroke. My son and my neighbor had strokes and I saw first hand what it did to them. I do not want a stroke. If the watchman can stop just one stroke, it pays for itself. Some people will ask, how do you know if the device actually stopped a blood clot….plain simple answer is…you don't know.
Know and understand, really understand,.. the risks and possible benefits of having a Watchman procedure. There are risks with everything you do…I trust my cardi, my cardi trusts the surgeon so I will trust the surgeon knows what he is doing He has done hundreds of watchman installations. Some, like my first attempt, fail. This is not due to the surgeon, it is due to the size and location of the LAA or some other reason the surgeon feels he can not safely complete the install.

As for me, it was MY decision to get the Watchman. I decided based on all the information I could find on my own and what my cardi gave me. My cardi did NOT push me into going ahead with the procedure. She gave me the best advice she could based on my health and heart conditions. I trust my cardi and her words carried most of the weight. So, talk to your cardi. If the watchman is not right for you, your cardi should say so. If in doubt get a second opinion from an independent cardi from a hospital/clinic not related to the one your cardi is in. \

If the next attempt of installing a watchman fails, I will do the ablation route. Ablation sure was not my first choice based on my research. Again, getting this procedure should be YOUR decision. Talk to your family and friends, listen to your cardi team and do your research.

I hope this will help quell some questions and fears about the watchman.

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@phoenix1647

When my cardi first mentioned Watchman, I got on the internet and searched for all the information I could find. I am a person that wants to know everything I can learn about a procedure or medical condition I might have. There is a lot of info out there about the watchman…..all of it is basely the same. The official Watchman website has a lot written but does not really give that good of information. At least not what I was looking for. The official Watchman website is there for one thing only…..sell their product. I have read many write-ups from hospitals, clinics, etc about what the Watchman does and how it is supposed to work and very little about how it is put in a heart. I found ONE site that did say," if a watchman is installed, to remove it for any reason will require open heart surgery". Hmmmm…I don't recall reading that on the official Watchman website.
My first thought was "so, this thing only stops blood clots coming from LAA…I can still get a stroke from clots from other places Why bother getting the watchman." Then my cardi reminded me of how many AFIBs I was having. She said "every AFIB episode has the potential of causing a blood clot and stroke. My son and my neighbor had strokes and I saw first hand what it did to them. I do not want a stroke. If the watchman can stop just one stroke, it pays for itself. Some people will ask, how do you know if the device actually stopped a blood clot….plain simple answer is…you don't know.
Know and understand, really understand,.. the risks and possible benefits of having a Watchman procedure. There are risks with everything you do…I trust my cardi, my cardi trusts the surgeon so I will trust the surgeon knows what he is doing He has done hundreds of watchman installations. Some, like my first attempt, fail. This is not due to the surgeon, it is due to the size and location of the LAA or some other reason the surgeon feels he can not safely complete the install.

As for me, it was MY decision to get the Watchman. I decided based on all the information I could find on my own and what my cardi gave me. My cardi did NOT push me into going ahead with the procedure. She gave me the best advice she could based on my health and heart conditions. I trust my cardi and her words carried most of the weight. So, talk to your cardi. If the watchman is not right for you, your cardi should say so. If in doubt get a second opinion from an independent cardi from a hospital/clinic not related to the one your cardi is in. \

If the next attempt of installing a watchman fails, I will do the ablation route. Ablation sure was not my first choice based on my research. Again, getting this procedure should be YOUR decision. Talk to your family and friends, listen to your cardi team and do your research.

I hope this will help quell some questions and fears about the watchman.

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Very refreshing to see someone like you doing your homework…..thank you for the information…..I have been trying to find out what is the purpose and what is the function of the LAA…. now that is an interesting path to travel….hope all is well with you and 2021 is a much better year.

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