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UHS performs 250th Watchman implant procedure

May 01, 2024

The UHS Structural Heart Disease & Valve Clinic team has performed the 250th Watchman procedure using an advanced mesh-like implant that can reduce the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, marking 250 lives changed for the better!

UHS cardiologists were the first in the Southern Tier to implant the Watchman device, performing the first procedure at UHS Wilson Medical Center in May 2017.

Known formally as left atrial appendage occlusion, the Watchman implant is a proven alternative to the long-term use of blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

It is a 60- to 90-minute procedure performed through an incision in the groin using a catheter to access the heart.  Done at UHS Wilson Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, the procedure allows most patients to go home the next day, with 96 % of patients able to discontinue their blood thinner 45 days after implant.

Watchman is just one of a wide range of heart procedures offered through the UHS Heart & Vascular Institute and performed at UHS Wilson Medical Center.

Atrial fibrillation, sometimes abbreviated as Afib, affects the heart’s ability to pump blood properly. This can cause blood to pool in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage. There, the blood cells can stick together and form a clot.  Watchman offers a potentially life-changing stroke-risk treatment option that can free patients from the challenges of long-term blood-thinner use.

This alternative is for people with the type of atrial fibrillation that is not caused by heart valve disease. It is for patients who cannot take blood thinners due to bleeding issues or who have a lifestyle that puts them at risk for bleeding.

The Watchman team includes implanting cardiologists Alon Yarkoni, MD, FACC; Afzal ur Rehman, MD, PhD; and Ata ur Bajwa, MD; echocardiolography specialist Keyoor Patel, DO, FACC; collaborating cardiologist Sreekanth Kondareddy, MD; cardiology-trained nurse practitioners; and a dedicated nurse clinical coordinator.

To date, more than 400,000 Watchman procedures have been performed worldwide.