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

Mary, Please keep us updated. Thank you so much for sharing

REPLY

Thanks everyone…it's Always a wait and see what happens… appreciate the in put

REPLY
@tresjur

Hi Billie,

Because it has been less than a month since the Watchman was implanted, I don’t have much to offer in the way of pros or cons on its effectivity. For three years I was on nothing and then on 325 mg aspirin in the last year. What do you do when it seems your only option is to either bleed out or stroke out? Extremely scary worrying about either.

My decision to go with the Watchman was primarily to prevent clots and secondly to give me a little peace of mind from worrying about a stroke. Strokes (not A-Fib related) run in my family. I know what the quality of life is like after suffering a debilitating stroke from watching my aunt and grandma go through it. My primary care physician is happy with my decision as she had been worried about me not being on a thinner.

Your doctor will order a TEE to determine if you are an eligible candidate. The doctor will be looking for clots (hopefully none) and the size of the implant site to determine if the device will fit. Once I passed the TEE, because of my history of GI bleeds, I then saw my GI doctor who scheduled a colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy looking for any areas that might bleed as I would again be on blood thinners. Two weeks before the procedure I went on coumadin, which was managed by an anticoagulation team that was in contact with me daily. My INR goal was 2.0 to 3.0 and but I never hit that mark. From day one, my INR was all over the place, but luckily after pigging out on leafy green vegetables the day before the implant, my INR went down to 3.0, and just prior to implantation it was a 1.9.

I stayed in the hospital overnight with hourly checks on the groin (incision site) and the stitches were removed the same day as the procedure. The incision site was rather painful that first day, but on the second day, the pain was down to a level 4. All looked good so I went home around noon.

I wanted to share my journey with you, however your journey may be different based on your current condition. I do know for sure that the initial TEE, and going on a blood thinner before and after the implantation is a requirement.

My suggestion to you is to do your due diligence, research, ask questions, and weigh the pro and cons. I even watched the procedure on YouTube…it’s amazing what is on YouTube, lol. What had me on the fence is finding out the Watchman can only be removed with open heart surgery. I pray that it never comes to that. Because I felt that I had really pushed my luck for four years without any treatment for the A-Fib, I decided I had to do something and for me the pros won.

My thought are if my body would/could tolerate the thinners I would stay on them, even with the dangers involved. I’m an advocate for “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I was doing fine on coumadin for 14 years then I switched to Pradaxa simply to avoid having to go for PT/INR testing. That’s when I ran into low hemogloblin and GI bleed problems. So far I haven’t had any problems with the Eliquis and should be off of them in another 25 days.

Regards,
Mary

Jump to this post

Hi Mary. Did you have the tee done yesterday? I will be having the echo done Nov 7th to see how the watchman is doing?

REPLY

Hello 1943,

The last TEE I had was back in September 2017 shortly after I had the Watchman implanted. In March of this year, the electrophysiologist released me to my cardiologist for further care. Since that time I have had an ECHO and all seems well.

Mary

REPLY

I had the watchman inplanted on 22 July. Follow up TEE September 4 , all was fine so finally off Xaralto after 5 years now on Plavix until re-peat TER. If all good – then ASA Forever. My electrophysiologist had suggest this 5 years ago because of a Chad score of 5 and an extremely active life style (sling, biking, hiking,gardening) and terrible bruseing in response to the Xarelto. So far all is fine with the watchman. Still brushing with the Plavix but the bruises seem to go away after 3 weeks. Looking forward to January and no more blood thinners. Also had nose bleeds all the time on the Xaralto and so far only 2 since the Watchman. Good luck to you. Kathe Coelho

REPLY
@tresjur

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

Jump to this post

Hi Mary. Tee went good yesterday. Off eliquis. Now on plavix and baby aspirin for four months. Then just. Baby asp

REPLY
@1943

Hi Mary. Tee went good yesterday. Off eliquis. Now on plavix and baby aspirin for four months. Then just. Baby asp

Jump to this post

Hello 1943,

Thanks for updating and sharing this news. You are on your way to living with A-Fib without the problems associated with blood thinners. My follow-up treatment was a tad different from yours. I was only on Eliquis for 6 months after the implant and then I switched to the low-dose aspirin. I'm been on the aspirin since March 2018 and doing well. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing. I've been seeing more and more requests for information on the Watchman.

Tresjur

REPLY

@tresjur, can you help understand your miraculous recovery by telling us what a TEE is? How about TER? Feel the need to know before I get interested!! Martin

REPLY

I had the watchman implanted 7-21-18, as had terrible bruising and nose bleeds constantly while on xeralto. I had been referred to a specialist for the watchman procedure when I was diagnosed with A Fib. I had a chad score of 5 and MRI evidence of a stroke, fortunately without any symptoms or resulting problems. I was considered an excellent prospect as I am very active, skiing, tennis, biking, hiking and gardening, therefore blood thinners but me at great risk for problems as I did not want to give up my active life style. Long story short after 5 years on Xeralto at age 82, I bit the bullet and had the procedure done. It was a walk in the park, as was the TEE 6 weeks later. The only problem is I am still on a blood thinner plavex until after the next TEE in January. I do still have bruising but it does seem to fade an doesn't leave as much of an iron stain, and the nose bleeds are less frequent. So my fingers are crossed that in January I can say by by to all blood thinners and bruising. Hope you do as well. Sincerely Kathe

Liked by Tresjur

REPLY
@predictable

@tresjur, can you help understand your miraculous recovery by telling us what a TEE is? How about TER? Feel the need to know before I get interested!! Martin

Jump to this post

Martin, a TEE (Transesophageal Echocardiography) is a test that produces pictures of your heart. A small thin tube passes through your mouth and into your throat.

REPLY
@kathe626

I had the watchman implanted 7-21-18, as had terrible bruising and nose bleeds constantly while on xeralto. I had been referred to a specialist for the watchman procedure when I was diagnosed with A Fib. I had a chad score of 5 and MRI evidence of a stroke, fortunately without any symptoms or resulting problems. I was considered an excellent prospect as I am very active, skiing, tennis, biking, hiking and gardening, therefore blood thinners but me at great risk for problems as I did not want to give up my active life style. Long story short after 5 years on Xeralto at age 82, I bit the bullet and had the procedure done. It was a walk in the park, as was the TEE 6 weeks later. The only problem is I am still on a blood thinner plavex until after the next TEE in January. I do still have bruising but it does seem to fade an doesn't leave as much of an iron stain, and the nose bleeds are less frequent. So my fingers are crossed that in January I can say by by to all blood thinners and bruising. Hope you do as well. Sincerely Kathe

Jump to this post

Kathe626,

I was on Eliquis instead of Xeralto following the implant. The six months of Eliquis went by quickly without problems for me and I have been on the low dose aspirin since March of this year. For me, the implant was the right thing to do. Great hearing you are doing well and that you can maintain your very active life.

Tresjur

REPLY
@predictable

@tresjur, can you help understand your miraculous recovery by telling us what a TEE is? How about TER? Feel the need to know before I get interested!! Martin

Jump to this post

@predictable Yes, @tresjur is right.

It is like an echocardiogram only from the inside of your body, not the outside. Very good tool for looking at the heart valves and other potential problems.

REPLY

Hi everyone. I go in the 17th of April 2019 for my watchman procedure. I'm very scared. Back story is this. On November 12th 2017 I had a stroke. I had a heart loop monitor put in and found out I have A fib. In March 2016 I went through a cardiac ablation because of very long bouts of SVT for 21 years to the month. I was put on warfarin but it was changed to eloquis because the warfarin wasn't getting dialed in. Went to the eye doctor later and found out I was having blood bleeds behind my eyes. Dr immediately took me of of the the eloquis and that has been going on just over 2 weeks. Oh I forgot, when I had my stroke CT showed I had a previous one without the side paralization. Any words to calm my fears?

REPLY
@lyndalk

Hi everyone. I go in the 17th of April 2019 for my watchman procedure. I'm very scared. Back story is this. On November 12th 2017 I had a stroke. I had a heart loop monitor put in and found out I have A fib. In March 2016 I went through a cardiac ablation because of very long bouts of SVT for 21 years to the month. I was put on warfarin but it was changed to eloquis because the warfarin wasn't getting dialed in. Went to the eye doctor later and found out I was having blood bleeds behind my eyes. Dr immediately took me of of the the eloquis and that has been going on just over 2 weeks. Oh I forgot, when I had my stroke CT showed I had a previous one without the side paralization. Any words to calm my fears?

Jump to this post

Hello @lyndalk and welcome to Connect. It sounds as if you have had a number of problems related to stroke and I can understand both your concern about the Watchman procedure as well as the need for it. We have had other members who have also had bleeding problems with blood thinners and went on to get the Watchman in order to deal with the possibility of a stroke. I would like to introduce you to @tresjur and @kathe626, who have also had the Watchman.

@kathe626 How are you doing? Did you have the TEE in January as planned? I hope it went well. I would love to have an update from you when you have a moment.

@1943 I hope you are doing well. Do you have any updates you would like to share?

REPLY
@elizabeth1941

Does anyone have a watchman implant? If so are you happy or satisfied with it.My EP suggested I might want to have one instead of taking blood thinner

Jump to this post

I have the watchman implant. Almost a year now. All I take is a baby aspirin a day. Glad to be off blood thinners after two major bleeds

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.