KINGWOOD MEDICAL CENTER FIRST HOSPITAL IN NORTHEAST HOUSTON TO OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE TO WARFARIN MEDICATION

Kingwood Medical Center is the first hospital in Northeast Houston to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant.

For patients with atrial fibrillation who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians, but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN LAAC Implant is an alternative to reduce their risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke.  The WATCHMAN Implant is designed to close off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.  By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.  

People with atrial fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke.  Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool and form clots in the LAA.  For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots. If a clot forms in the LAA, it can increase one’s risk of having a stroke. Blood clots can break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain, lungs, and other parts of the body.

“The new WATCHMAN LAAC Implant provides physicians with a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation,” said James Strickland, MD, at Kingwood Medical Center. “For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who are seeking an alternative to warfarin and other blood thinner medications, the WATCHMAN Implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy,” said Percy F. Morales, MD.

Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.