WATCHMAN procedure available at Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

By: Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital
| Published 04/04/2018

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THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital now offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to taking blood thinners long term.

The newly FDA-approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant is an alternative to reduce patients’ risk of AF-related stroke. The implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

Rajesh Venkataraman, M.D., cardiologist, electrophysiologist and member of Houston Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates, has now completed two WATCHMAN procedures at Houston Methodist The Woodlands and calls the new device a “game changer.”

“It is a great option for patients who cannot tolerate warfarin because of bleeding issues or risk of falling,” Venkataraman said. “If you had AF and could not take a blood thinner, we had no other options, in the past, but to give you an aspirin and say ‘let’s hope for the best.’ But, a greater risk of stroke was always there.”

Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.

“Bringing WATCHMAN to Houston Methodist The Woodlands is yet another example of how we are dedicated to building a world-class heart program and leading medicine in The Woodlands,” added Kerrie Guerrero, chief nursing officer. “If a patient is a candidate for WATCHMAN, or other advanced modalities such as Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (world’s smallest pacemaker), or the newly FDA-approved Resonate implantable cardioverter defibrillator, they no longer have to go to the Texas Medical Center. Patients in Montgomery County and the north Houston region can have peace of mind knowing they can receive these cutting-edge treatments close to home, at Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital.”

About Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans.3 Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling.4,5 The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF 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. Nearly half of AF patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.6

About Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital opened in 2017 with 187 beds and occupies 470,000 square feet, including a 150,000-square-foot-medical building. Located at the intersection of Texas Hwy. 242 and Interstate 45, Houston Methodist The Woodlands is the eighth hospital in the Houston Methodist system, offering The Woodlands community a full-service, acute care hospital providing services similar to those of the flagship Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.

1. Holmes DR, Seminars in Neurology 2010; 30:528–536

2. Blackshear J. and Odell J., Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 1996;61:755-759

3. Colilla et al., Am J Cardiol. 2013; 112:1142-1147

4. Hart RG, Halperin JL., Ann Intern Med. 1999; 131:688–695

5. McGrath ER, Neurology 2013; 81:825-832

6. Waldo, AL. JACC 2005; 46:1729-1736.

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