Did you know the heart has its own version of an appendix? It’s called the left atrial appendage. Just like the actual appendix in the abdomen, it has a tendency to create problems—especially for people living with Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB).
AFIB is an abnormal heart rhythm caused by extremely fast and irregular beats from the upper chambers of the heart. When a heart is in AFIB, blood doesn’t move well throughout the body and is more likely to clot.
“AFIB in and of itself isn’t generally life-threatening, but it can cause blood clots in the left atrial appendage that can lead to a stroke,” says Jeffrey Liu, MD, Director of Electrophysiology at St. Clair Health.
For most AFIB patients who are at risk of stroke, blood thinners are the best solution for preventing clots. However, long-term use of blood thinners has been shown to cause bleeding problems for many.
Enter the cutting-edge Watchman™ program. The minimally invasive procedure accesses the heart through a blood vessel in the leg, where the Watchman is implanted to seal off the left atrial appendage. It acts as a “plug” to prevent blood clots from forming in the appendage, which minimizes the risk of stroke.
The Watchman program is a prime example of how St. Clair is leading the way in cardiac care. It’s also an example of how St. Clair’s team approach to cardiac care helps to deliver the best solution for patients.
According to Dr. Liu, “I sit down with the patient and our cardiac surgeons to discuss all the options: blood thinners, the Watchman, or surgically placing a clip. It’s really all about taking the time to help the patient understand everything so they’re comfortable with the solution.”
To learn more about the Watchman program and St. Clair Health’s cardiac care team, visit stclair.org/cardiovascular.