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Abrazo Health is first in Arizona to implant stroke-reduction device

photo of Abrazo health heart implant
Some six million Americans are estimated to be affected by AF — an irregular heartbeat that can feel like a quivering heart. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
Heart implant at Abrazo Health serves non-valvular atrial fibrillation patients
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital is the first in Arizona — and one of the first in the region — to perform a patient implant of the new Watchman FLX Pro left atrial appendage closure device.

The device is designed to reduce stroke risk and serve as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem, which is also known as non-valvular AF or NVAF, Abrazo Health officials tell the Arizona Digital Free Press.

Building on previous generations of the device, the Watchman FLX Pro features a permanent polymer coating that is designed to reduce the risk of device-related blood clots. It uses visualization markers for enhanced placement and available in a larger size to treat patients with larger left atrial appendage anatomies.

Some six million Americans are estimated to be affected by AF — an irregular heartbeat that can feel like a quivering heart. People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms.

Abrazo Health officials report the device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep harmful blood clots that can form there from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the left atrial appendage, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner.

“The Watchman FLX Pro is the latest-generation device designed to reduce stroke risk in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who need an alternative to oral anticoagulation therapy,” said Dr. Ashish Sadhu. “I’m proud to have performed the first implant of this device at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital, as it offers another patient a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment and will allow us to treat a broad range of patients thanks to the expanded size matrix.”

Watchman technology has been implanted to treat more than 300,000 patients worldwide and is done in during a one-time procedure. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.

“Treating the first patient in the state with this device is a significant milestone for our facility as we celebrate 25 years of patient care,” said Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Nathan Worley. “Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital has a long history of advancing and innovating in cardiovascular medicine. We are proud to offer this option for treating patients who are at high risk for stroke.”

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