Kaweah Health completes first Watchman heart implant in Tulare County

Kaweah Health is excited to announce its first implant procedure of the WATCHMAN FLX™ left atrial appendage closure device for stroke prevention on a patient with atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood normally. Kaweah Health is the first hospital in the area to offer the WATCHMAN device, an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with non-valvular AFib. The procedure was performed by Dr. Atul Singla and a specialized cardiac team at Kaweah Health Medical Center on patient Betsy Murphy.

The WATCHMAN is a minimally invasive, one-time implant about the size of a quarter. It sits inside the heart’s left atrial appendage (LAA) where blood clots often occur. The device creates a barrier to prevent blood clots from escaping into the bloodstream and causing a stroke or other adverse conditions.

Dr. Singla is excited about being able to offer this procedure to patients in the Central Valley. “This is going to make a big difference in the lives of patients with non-valvular AFib who are unable to take blood thinners due to various reasons and are at risk for stroke,” says Dr. Singla. ”Watchman therapy is an alternative to oral anticoagulation, and this is a particularly attractive option for patients at high risk for bleeding.”

An estimated seven million Americans are affected by AFib, an irregular heartbeat that can feel like a quivering heart. People with AFib have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN closes off an area of the heart called the LAA to keep harmful blood clots that may form there from entering the bloodstream 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 blood thinners. Kaweah Health is the only hospital in the area performing the WATCHMAN procedure and offers it as a treatment option for non-valvular AFib patients in the Central Valley. To learn more about WATCHMAN and other non-invasive cardiac procedures, visit KaweahHealth.org/Cardiac.

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