LANCASTER – First introduced to Antelope Valley Medical Center patients in early 2021, the Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Implant, also known as the Watchman device, offers hope and an option for patients at risk of stroke.
“We recently reached a new milestone at AVMC, the 100th Watchman LAA Closure device implant,” said, Sameh F. Gadallah, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist at Antelope Valley Medical Center. “We are now at 108, one of the highest volumes in Southern California. This is a testimony to the hard work of the structural heart team, doctors, nurses, and technologists. The program, with the support of AVMC leadership, has been a resounding success.”
The Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Implant (LAAO) procedure is an effective way to reduce stroke risk in patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac condition that affects tens of millions in the United States. Certain patients with atrial fibrillation are prone to strokes and neurological damage. One way to minimize the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation is to use anti-coagulants. Although these medications are effective at reducing the incidence of strokes, they have their own serious side effects. They all can cause serious and at times life-threatening bleeding. Many patients cannot, therefore, take anticoagulants and are left with unchecked stroke risk. The blood clots that lead to strokes in atrial fibrillation patients develop in a particular portion of the heart, known as, the left atrial appendage. This is a recess in the left upper heart chamber that, if closed, dramatically lowers the risk of strokes. The device used is known as LAAO or the Watchman device. The device is inserted through a small incision in the right groin and is a permanent implant. Once in place, there is no need for long-term anticoagulation with the associated lifelong risk of bleeding.
“I’m extremely proud of our heart team for achieving such a milestone,” said Edward Mirzabegian, CEO of Antelope Valley Medical Center. “This kind of technology provides the opportunity to save lives and improve quality of life—I can’t think of a better reason to celebrate. Congratulations to the entire team.”
To learn more about the cardiology services offered by Antelope Valley Medical Center, visit www.avmc.org/heart.