Watson Clinic cardiologists Douglas G. Ebersole, MD, FACC and Neal G. Kavesh, MD, FACC are the only specialists in Central Florida to offer implantation of a revolutionary new device known as the Watchman. The device is designed to decrease the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition characterized by an irregular heartbeat.
“People with AF are most likely to suffer blood clots which originate from an area of the heart known as the left atrial appendage,” says Dr. Ebersole. “Those clots can move to the brain and cause a potentially debilitating stroke.”
Blood thinners, such as Coumadin (Warfarin), Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Eliquis, are commonly employed to prevent blood clotting in patients who have been diagnosed with AF. For many patients, however, use of these thinners can result in excessive bleeding.
The Watchman could replace the need for blood thinners in qualified candidates with AF. During the procedure, the cardiologist guides the device through a catheter to the opening of the left atrial appendage. “When clots are released from the left atrium of the heart, the vast majority of the time these clots begin their formation in the left atrium appendage,” Dr. Ebersole continues. “We implant the Watchmen device into that opening, effectively closing it off and eliminating any risk of clot formation in that area.”
This painless procedure takes no more than an hour to complete and is done under general anesthesia. Patients can usually return home to their normal activities the very next day, though they may be required to stay on blood thinners for a short period of time while their heart tissue forms around implanted device.
The device can only be used in patients who experience non-valvular atrial fibrillation, which signifies that a particular type of AF which does not result from a valve disease such as mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation or aortic valve stenosis.
The procedure is currently offered at fewer than 100 hospitals nationwide. Watson Clinic cardiologists Dr. Ebersole and Dr. Kavesh are the only specialists in this region of the state who offer the procedure, which they perform from Lakeland Regional Health.
For more information and to schedule a consultation, please call 863-680-7490.