WICHITA – Wesley Medical Center is the first hospital in Kansas to offer the WATCHMAN™ left atrial appendage closure implant, a new stroke risk reduction option and an alternative to long-term warfarin therapy for certain patients with atrial fibrillation. Wesley medical professionals successfully performed its first two WATCHMAN procedures this week.
“It’s a big deal to have this here at Wesley and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this solution to patients who need it,” said Ghiyath Al-Tabbal, MD, Heartland Cardiology.
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation is blood-thinning warfarin medication. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications.
“This is very exciting because it gives patients who cannot tolerate anti-coagulant medications an option to protect them from stroke,” said Christos Mandanis, MD, Kansas Physician Group. “For a lot of patients, taking medications is not ideal – they cannot tolerate them or afford them or regulate them. For those patients, this may be a viable alternative.”
People with atrial fibrillation have five times greater risk of stroke. For patients with atrial fibrillation who are considered suitable for warfarin by their physicians but who have reason to seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN implant is an alternative to reduce their risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke. The implant closes off the left atrial appendage of the heart to keep harmful blood clots from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off that area, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin altogether.
“It will go a long way to reduce the risk of stroke in patients who can’t take anti-coagulants. Studies show that 99 percent of patients don’t need to take anticoagulants anymore one year after this procedure. This makes a huge difference for them,” Al-Tabbal said.
The implant is a one-time, catheter-based procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Patients typically go home within 24 hours.
The WATCHMAN has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world. For more information, please visit www.watchmanimplant.com.
For more information about Wesley Medical Center and its cardiology services, please visit www.wesleymc.com.
Wesley Healthcare is the region’s leading acute care hospital network providing a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for patients throughout Kansas and northern Oklahoma since 1912. As a leader in Overall Recommended Care in national surveys, Wesley Medical Center treats more than 24,000 patients annually and delivers more than 6,000 babies – more than any hospital in a 13-state region. Wesley provides the most extensive emergency network in Wichita, with Wesley ER, Wesley West ER, Wesley Woodlawn ER, the region’s only pediatric ER and soon, Wesley Derby ER. Wesley owns and operates Wesley Medical Center, Wesley Woodlawn Hospital & ER, multiple WesleyCare clinics and is currently building the region’s only dedicated children’s hospital – Wesley Children’s Hospital. To learn more about Wesley Healthcare, please visit www.wesleymc.com.