Patients in St. Louis with atrial fibrillation now have an option to enroll in the clinical trial, PREVAIL, comparing the WATCHMAN® Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device to long-term warfarin therapy. Mercy electrophysiologist Dr. Mauricio Sanchez is the first physician in St. Louis to implant the device. He is assisted by Dr. Anthony Sonn and Dr. Clark McKenzie. Mercy is second on the list of top sites for the PREVAIL trial.
The WATCHMAN® Device is designed to keep harmful blood clots from entering the patient’s blood stream, causing a stroke. Patients with atrial fibrillation, the most common heart-rhythm disorder affecting over 5 million people worldwide, are at an increased risk of stroke because blood can pool in the left atrium appendage (LAA) ultimately forming clots.
Typically patients with AF take blood thinning medications, such as warfarin, for life to prevent these clots from forming in the heart. These medications require frequent monitoring and have diet and other drug interactions causing compliance issues.
The procedure to implant the WATCHMAN® Device into the heart is done via a flexible tube (catheter) through a vein in the groin. The device is designed
to prevent blood flow into the left atrial appendage potentially reducing the risk of stroke and eliminating the need for long term use of blood thinning medications.
Commenting on the initial implants, Dr. Sanchez said, “The ability to close off the left atrial appendage without major surgery potentially offers many clinical advantages to our patients with atrial fibrillation who are at high risk of having a stroke. The adoption of this procedure and technology may greatly reduce the need for blood thinning medications and decrease the number of strokes in this at-risk patient population.”
The WATCHMAN® Left Atrial Appendage Closure Technology was developed by Atritech, Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn.