This next-generation permanent heart implant is the only FDA-approved device for the reduction of stroke risk in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation

Up to 6 million Americans are estimated to have AFib, a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart beat too fast and with an irregular rhythm. People with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than people with normal heart rhythms, and more than 90 percent of all stroke-causing clots that come from the heart form in the left atrial appendage in individuals with non-valvular AFib. CRMC is one of two hospitals in Wyoming to offer this implant procedure as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for individuals with atrial fibrillation (AFib) not caused by a heart valve problem.

The WATCHMAN device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the fingertip-size pouch from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.

To implant the device, the physician makes a small cut in the patient’s upper leg and inserts a narrow tube called a catheter that includes the WATCHMAN. The physician guides the device into the heart and then uses it to seal off the pouchlike left atrial appendage. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day. The device does not have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body.

More information about the WATCHMAN procedure is available by calling the Cheyenne Regional Medical Group Heart & Vascular Institute at (307) 637-1600.

May 4, 2022 press release