Ascension Sacred Heart Bay offers new technology for AFib patients

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BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — New technology could save the lives of residents living with atrial fibrillation.

The ‘Watchman’ device is now being used at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay. This innovative treatment does not need invasive surgery.

“I have in my hand a small device that is going to be seen as a potential life-changing device for some of our patients here in Bay County,” said Interventional Cardiology Dr. Amir Haghighat with the Cardiology Cardiovascular Institute of Northwest Florida.

The ‘Watchman’ device is smaller than a quarter but could save your life if you are living with atrial fibrillation.

“Which is a disorder that could cause clots that could lead to strokes,” said Haghighat.

For those unable to take blood thinners due to bleeding risks, this device may be the answer. It acts as a plug going into the left atrium of the heart.

“We access the vein in the leg, a very small incision,” said Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Samir Patel. “We pass a tube up into the heart and we cross over into the left side of the heart. And this device is crimped inside a tube. We direct that tube into the left atrial appendage which is a finger-like projection for the left atrium which is where most of the clots tend to form. And once this tube is in we deploy the device which basically seals up the opening of the appendage so it prevents the blood from getting into the appendage.”

And the ‘Watchman’ stops potential blood clots from forming. The surgery lasts about an hour.

For patients living with AFib who have been able to receive this minimally invasive surgery have been able to walk out of the hospital the very next morning.

“If the patient already has a blood clot, we want to have them dissolve the blood clot first before we do this,” said Electrophysiologist Dr. Nghia Hoang.

This is the first of its kind offered in Bay County.

“These can stay in the patient forever,” said Hoang.

To learn if you may be eligible to receive this device go to the Ascension Sacred Heart webpage.

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