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Calendar >  Tri-City Medical Center Celebrates 100th Watchman Procedure For Atrial Fibrillation

Tri-City Medical Center Celebrates 100th Watchman Procedure For Atrial Fibrillation

By   /  July 14, 2023  /  No Comments

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Permanent heart implant is designed to reduce the risk for stroke and eliminate the lifelong use of blood thinners.

Oceanside, CA – Tri-City Medical Center today announced that yesterday morning it successfully implanted the 100th Watchman FLX™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC)<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f33kyMh9rM> device into the heart of Connie Kindel, a 67-year-old patient who has congestive heart failure and takes warfarin for her non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib). Tri-City is the first hospital in North County to reach this 100th procedure milestone, which was performed by Aaron Yung, MD, FACC, a board-certified interventional and structural cardiologist at the hospital.

“This latest generation device serves as a safe and effective stroke risk reduction alternative for patients with non-valvular AFib, especially those with a compelling reason not to be on blood thinners,” said Dr. Yung. “For Connie, this procedure is life-changing as it will reduce her risk for stroke and bleeding, as well as allow her to stop taking a blood thinner forever.”

“I am so grateful that Tri-City Medical Center offers this procedure and feel that it has given me a new lease on life and peace of mind, “ remarked Mr. Kindel, who is being discharged from the hospital this morning. “Tri-City is one of the best hospitals I’ve ever been to and the only one I will come to.”

More than 12 million people are expected to have AFib by 2030, according to the American Heart Association<https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/what-is-atrial-fibrillation-afib-or-af>. AFib is a quivering, rapid heart rhythm arising from the top two chambers, or atria, of the heart. It can cause blood to pool in a small pouch of the left atrium called the left atrial appendage (LAA) and form clots. Almost 90%<https://www.acc.org/about-acc/press-releases/2017/03/18/08/47/sun-1045am-closing-left-atrial-appendage-reduces-stroke-risk-from-afib#:~:text=About%2090%20percent%20of%20strokes,sewing%20the%20atrial%20wall%20closed.> of stroke-causing clots from the heart begin in the LAA.

The device is made from a light, fabric-like membrane and metal frame resembling a parachute and comes in five different sizes to adapt to a person’s heart anatomy. “During this minimally invasive, one-hour procedure, the collapsed device is deployed to the heart via a  catheter inserted into the groin, similar to inserting a stent,” added Dr. Yung. “Once the Watchman is in place, it self-expands to about the size of a quarter to safely seal off the LAA to prevent blood clots from entering the bloodstream and causing a stroke.”

Most patients stay overnight and then come back for a follow-up about six weeks later. During that time, they remain on a blood thinner and low-dose aspirin while a layer of heart tissue begins to grow over the device to secure it in place and form a barrier against blood clots. Based on their doctor’s recommendations after closely monitoring the tissue growth for three to six months, patients can then stop taking their oral anticoagulants (OACs).

Long-term use of OACs can increase the risk of serious bleeding from injuries due to a fall or stomach and intestinal problems. They require monthly monitoring via a blood test, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes, so they may not be appropriate for everyone, leaving their stroke risk unchecked.

“The first Watchman implant was performed on October 16, 2020 at Tri-City,” said President and CEO, Gene Ma, MD, FACEP. “Since then, the multidisciplinary team consisting of interventionalists, electrophysiologists, cardiac imaging specialists, nurses and staff has worked hard to make this milestone possible and to transform the lives of those living with AFib.”

About Tri-City Medical Center ..Tri-City Medical Center has served our community for more than 60 years and is one of the largest employers in North San Diego County. As a full-service acute care hospital with seven primary and specialty care clinics and over 500 physicians practicing in over 60 specialties, Tri-City is vital to the well-being of our community and serves as a healthcare safety net for many of our citizens. The hospital has received a Gold Seal of Approval® from the Joint Commission showcasing a commitment to safe and effective patient care for the residents of the community.

Tri-City Medical Center prides itself on being the home to leading orthopedic, spine and cardiovascular health services while also specializing in world-class women’s health, robotic surgery, cancer and emergency care. Tri-City’s Emergency Department is there for your loved ones in their time of need and is highly regarded for our heart attack and stroke treatment programs. When minutes matter Tri-City is your source for quality compassionate care close to home. The hospital operates the largest Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in North County.

Tri-City also partners with more than 80 local non-profit and community organizations as part of our COASTAL Commitment<http://tricitymed.org/community> community outreach initiative. Together we are helping tackle some of our communities’ pressing health and social needs.

For more information about Tri-City Medical Center and Tri-City Healthcare District, please visit tricitymed.org<https://www.tricitymed.org>.

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