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

@gr82balive

To me the only drawback with being on warfarin, is the monitoring INR levels, is what the other products advertise as being their advantage. A possible down-side to the newer products is that unlike warfarin, there isn’t an antidote to reverse their effect in an emergency. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but certainly something to ask your healthcare professional about. I’ve been on warfarin for 5 years now without problems, other than the occasional INR being a little too low or two high depending on diet and hydration.

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Hi Billie,

Thanks for sharing the information about the reversal for Eliquis….that’s really good to know. If all goes well, I can discontinue the Eliquis in a few weeks.

My process was: cardiologist – initial TEE – electrophysiologist – GI doctor – colonoscopy and EGD – two weeks of warfarin – implant.
That took 15 weeks total, however the time went fast and before I knew it I was checking in the hospital. I will pray that your approvals and wait time move along seamlessly. Also, while on the Watchman website, I requested additional information and was contacted by an advisor that answered questions, mailed out additional information, gave me her contact number and stayed in touch with me throughout my journey.

Know that I will cheerlead for you and keep you in my prayers. If you have any questions, please post or private email me. I am interested in your progress as you travel through the process.

Regards,
Mary

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@gr82balive

To me the only drawback with being on warfarin, is the monitoring INR levels, is what the other products advertise as being their advantage. A possible down-side to the newer products is that unlike warfarin, there isn’t an antidote to reverse their effect in an emergency. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but certainly something to ask your healthcare professional about. I’ve been on warfarin for 5 years now without problems, other than the occasional INR being a little too low or two high depending on diet and hydration.

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Welcome to the Heart & Blood Health group on Connect, @kibwezi. We have some really informative discussions regarding pros and cons Xarelto that might interest you too:

– Pros and cons of Xarelto https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/pros-and-cons-of-xarelto/?utm_campaign=search
– Xarelto https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/xarelto/?pg=3#comment-64158

@kibwezi, could you share a few more details about yourself? When were you diagnosed? Are you taking Xarelto for atrial fibrillation?

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@gr82balive

To me the only drawback with being on warfarin, is the monitoring INR levels, is what the other products advertise as being their advantage. A possible down-side to the newer products is that unlike warfarin, there isn’t an antidote to reverse their effect in an emergency. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but certainly something to ask your healthcare professional about. I’ve been on warfarin for 5 years now without problems, other than the occasional INR being a little too low or two high depending on diet and hydration.

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Hi Billie,

I saw the electrophysiologist on the 17th and we mainly went over the procedure, recovery and what is down the road. The next TEE is scheduled for 10/30. At that time, if all looks well, I will discontinue the Eliquis and aspirin and instead go on Plavix for about 6 months.
After the 6 months of Plavix, I will forever be on low dose aspirin.

How are you doing? Have you made any progress with securing approvals for your implant?

Mary

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Good to hear from you Mary!

And so glad everything went well at the Electrophysiologist visit. I know you’re excited about the TEE on the 30th. I’ve got it marked on my calendar and will be thinking of you that day!

I ‘think’ I had a minor setback yesterday. I’ve been doing pretty good on my recovery from the gastric bleed and slowly getting stronger. I had a visit with my cardiologist yesterday morning. I had been looking so forward to that visit, because it was to get me started doing whatever he needed me to do to prepare for the Watchman. However, right before I got to his office, I started feeling light headed, was dizzy, nauseated, disoriented, etc. They took me right back into his office from the waiting room, where my BP was 82/54. He came right in, said I looked like I was having some type of problem and had me taken to the ER. I was there until 8:30 last night. They gave me fluids, monitored me, ran tests and changed some of my Meds. They also found out that my heart rate had spiked to 181 while I was at the doctor’s office. Diagnosis was that it as an aFib event. I usually am in aFib and don’t even know it. I guess there’s a first for everything!!

Before I left my doctor’s office, I told him I wanted to talk to him about the Watchman, etc. He said, we’ll talk later. Anyway, the good part of the whole ordeal yesterday, was that my Electrophysiologist came to see me in the ER, and said he’d work with the Cardiologist to get things rolling. So, we’ll see!! I see my gastric doctor next Tuesday to get her approval. So, I guess, we’re still working toward it – just not in the structured way I wanted it to happen!

I’m feeling okay today. So hopefully, yesterday won’t set me back too bad.

Take care!

Billie

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@bergordon

Good to hear from you Mary!

And so glad everything went well at the Electrophysiologist visit. I know you’re excited about the TEE on the 30th. I’ve got it marked on my calendar and will be thinking of you that day!

I ‘think’ I had a minor setback yesterday. I’ve been doing pretty good on my recovery from the gastric bleed and slowly getting stronger. I had a visit with my cardiologist yesterday morning. I had been looking so forward to that visit, because it was to get me started doing whatever he needed me to do to prepare for the Watchman. However, right before I got to his office, I started feeling light headed, was dizzy, nauseated, disoriented, etc. They took me right back into his office from the waiting room, where my BP was 82/54. He came right in, said I looked like I was having some type of problem and had me taken to the ER. I was there until 8:30 last night. They gave me fluids, monitored me, ran tests and changed some of my Meds. They also found out that my heart rate had spiked to 181 while I was at the doctor’s office. Diagnosis was that it as an aFib event. I usually am in aFib and don’t even know it. I guess there’s a first for everything!!

Before I left my doctor’s office, I told him I wanted to talk to him about the Watchman, etc. He said, we’ll talk later. Anyway, the good part of the whole ordeal yesterday, was that my Electrophysiologist came to see me in the ER, and said he’d work with the Cardiologist to get things rolling. So, we’ll see!! I see my gastric doctor next Tuesday to get her approval. So, I guess, we’re still working toward it – just not in the structured way I wanted it to happen!

I’m feeling okay today. So hopefully, yesterday won’t set me back too bad.

Take care!

Billie

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Hi Billie,

Sorry to hear about your recent aFib event but you couldn’t have been in a better place at the time it happened. I’m hoping that this is a rare occurrence for you and that you will continue to heal without further incidents.

Have you ever been cardioverted? Thirteen years ago my cardiologist tried a cardioversion on me but it didn’t work. I use to go in and out of aFib but I’ve been in chronic aFib for about ten years now. I’ve never felt the palpations or irregular heartbeats, but I have known others with aFib and they have shared their stories of fearing a heart attack or panicking from the intense palpations.

I’m happy to hear that you are feeling okay today. Hang in there….I’m a firm believer that if something is meant to be, it will happen in the right time.

Stay Prayerful,

Mary

“A setback is simply a setup for a comeback.”

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@bergordon

Good to hear from you Mary!

And so glad everything went well at the Electrophysiologist visit. I know you’re excited about the TEE on the 30th. I’ve got it marked on my calendar and will be thinking of you that day!

I ‘think’ I had a minor setback yesterday. I’ve been doing pretty good on my recovery from the gastric bleed and slowly getting stronger. I had a visit with my cardiologist yesterday morning. I had been looking so forward to that visit, because it was to get me started doing whatever he needed me to do to prepare for the Watchman. However, right before I got to his office, I started feeling light headed, was dizzy, nauseated, disoriented, etc. They took me right back into his office from the waiting room, where my BP was 82/54. He came right in, said I looked like I was having some type of problem and had me taken to the ER. I was there until 8:30 last night. They gave me fluids, monitored me, ran tests and changed some of my Meds. They also found out that my heart rate had spiked to 181 while I was at the doctor’s office. Diagnosis was that it as an aFib event. I usually am in aFib and don’t even know it. I guess there’s a first for everything!!

Before I left my doctor’s office, I told him I wanted to talk to him about the Watchman, etc. He said, we’ll talk later. Anyway, the good part of the whole ordeal yesterday, was that my Electrophysiologist came to see me in the ER, and said he’d work with the Cardiologist to get things rolling. So, we’ll see!! I see my gastric doctor next Tuesday to get her approval. So, I guess, we’re still working toward it – just not in the structured way I wanted it to happen!

I’m feeling okay today. So hopefully, yesterday won’t set me back too bad.

Take care!

Billie

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Hello Mary, @tresjur – I love your closing quote, “A setback is simply a setup for a comeback.” How true!

Teresa

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I’v been on Warfarin For several years with no problems. It’s convenient and I live near the hospital for convenient check-ups.

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Is there a way to forward any of these remarks. I have a friend who has Afib and I think she would like to read these messages.

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@gracie1

How nice that you would like your friend to benefit from these discussions!

You could certainly invite her to join Connect as you did last month. She would not necessarily have to post information about herself if she didn’t want to, however, she could read the posts and benefit by the sharing of experiences.

Teresa

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Hi @gracie1,

Welcome to Connect! As Teresa mentioned, your friend could join Connect, where she would be warmly welcomed by an incredibly informative community. We have quite a few active discussions on Afib, which she can also read. If you have any questions with regard to her joining or getting started, please do let us know.

REPLY
@bergordon

Good to hear from you Mary!

And so glad everything went well at the Electrophysiologist visit. I know you’re excited about the TEE on the 30th. I’ve got it marked on my calendar and will be thinking of you that day!

I ‘think’ I had a minor setback yesterday. I’ve been doing pretty good on my recovery from the gastric bleed and slowly getting stronger. I had a visit with my cardiologist yesterday morning. I had been looking so forward to that visit, because it was to get me started doing whatever he needed me to do to prepare for the Watchman. However, right before I got to his office, I started feeling light headed, was dizzy, nauseated, disoriented, etc. They took me right back into his office from the waiting room, where my BP was 82/54. He came right in, said I looked like I was having some type of problem and had me taken to the ER. I was there until 8:30 last night. They gave me fluids, monitored me, ran tests and changed some of my Meds. They also found out that my heart rate had spiked to 181 while I was at the doctor’s office. Diagnosis was that it as an aFib event. I usually am in aFib and don’t even know it. I guess there’s a first for everything!!

Before I left my doctor’s office, I told him I wanted to talk to him about the Watchman, etc. He said, we’ll talk later. Anyway, the good part of the whole ordeal yesterday, was that my Electrophysiologist came to see me in the ER, and said he’d work with the Cardiologist to get things rolling. So, we’ll see!! I see my gastric doctor next Tuesday to get her approval. So, I guess, we’re still working toward it – just not in the structured way I wanted it to happen!

I’m feeling okay today. So hopefully, yesterday won’t set me back too bad.

Take care!

Billie

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Hi Billie,

I’m sorry I took so long to post but time has been getting away from me lately. My October 30 TEE went well and I’m on to the next step of this process. I will be on Plavix and a low dose aspirin for the next six months. After that, it will just be a low dose aspirin for life.

How is your approval process going? I hope all is well with you and will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Mary

REPLY
@bergordon

Hi Mary!
Was very interested in reading your post. I’ve been on Eliquis for several years now and have had no problems until last month. On Sep 23, I developed a severe GI bleed, resulting in the loss of a lit of blood, a 5 day stay in the hospital, 2 blood transfusions and a significant setback overall. I believe my bleeding was caused from a gastric ulcer that started bleeding. Once the bleeding started, it wouldn’t stop because of the Eliquis. They gave me an anticoagulant to stop the bleeding and it worked. So, I’ve been off of all blood thinners since then, waiting for the ulcer to heal enough for me to restart the blood thinners. I’ve been in and out of aFib a number of times since then, and like you, worry constantly about having a stroke. I go back to my Electrophysiologist on Monday to see where to go next. I’ve been researching the pros and cons of the watchman and have about decided it’s my best bet. I’ve read where it isn’t as effective as a blood thinner, but then on the other hand, it’s not as dangerous either. I guess there’s no one stop quick fix, we just have to go with the best option. What do you think of my thoughts? Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

Billie

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Hi Mary,
Just wanted you to know I had the Watchman Device implanted this past Monday. Like with you, the stitches were removed the same day and I did stay overnight. I had no problems whatsoever with the procedure. My plan is to stay on Eliquis for 45 days, have a TEE on March 22 to determine if the opening is totally closed, then to get off of Eliquis and be on Plavix and baby aspirin for 6 months. If everything is fine during that period, I will quit taking the Plavix and only take the baby aspirin. Sounds like a pretty good plan. This week (since the Implant on Feb 5th) has been good – no problems at all! I’m hoping this is the start of an improvement stage!!
How are things going with you?

Take care!
Billie

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@gr82balive

To me the only drawback with being on warfarin, is the monitoring INR levels, is what the other products advertise as being their advantage. A possible down-side to the newer products is that unlike warfarin, there isn’t an antidote to reverse their effect in an emergency. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but certainly something to ask your healthcare professional about. I’ve been on warfarin for 5 years now without problems, other than the occasional INR being a little too low or two high depending on diet and hydration.

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WHAT IS TEE?

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@gr82balive

To me the only drawback with being on warfarin, is the monitoring INR levels, is what the other products advertise as being their advantage. A possible down-side to the newer products is that unlike warfarin, there isn’t an antidote to reverse their effect in an emergency. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but certainly something to ask your healthcare professional about. I’ve been on warfarin for 5 years now without problems, other than the occasional INR being a little too low or two high depending on diet and hydration.

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Welcome to Connect, @bjme,

TEE stands for transesophageal echo which is a type of echo where a flexible tube containing a transducer is guided down your throat and into your esophagus, which connects your mouth to your stomach. From there, the transducer can be positioned to obtain more-detailed images of your heart. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/echocardiogram/about/pac-20393856

What brings you to Connect, @bjme?

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@gr82balive

To me the only drawback with being on warfarin, is the monitoring INR levels, is what the other products advertise as being their advantage. A possible down-side to the newer products is that unlike warfarin, there isn’t an antidote to reverse their effect in an emergency. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but certainly something to ask your healthcare professional about. I’ve been on warfarin for 5 years now without problems, other than the occasional INR being a little too low or two high depending on diet and hydration.

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I have AFIB but contrary to what my cardiologist wants I am just taking a full aspirin daily.I don't have symptoms – fast heartbeat – pulse almost always in the 70's unless exercising. I'm widowed living alone and worry everyday of my condition or complications with taking a blood thinner. Also, because I enjoy doing yard work, shoveling snow and just being very independent I do have accidents and have slipped on ice or trip over something and tumble down more than a couple of times. I think I would have to make life changes to be on a blood thinner. I'm in my mid seventies and otherwise healthy – on no Rx just OTC vitamins and of course the aspirin. It is a worry and that is why if there is something i can do to protect myself and not take blood thinners I'm interested.and curious

Liked by grandmaR

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