WATCHMAN™ device for atrial fibrillation (AFib)

Cardiologists with the Cardiac Innovations & Structural Heart Center® at the Heart Hospital of Edward-Elmhurst Health use the WATCHMAN™ device to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib) and reduce stroke risk without the need for medication:

  • Edward-Elmhurst is ranked No. 1 in the state for the number of WATCHMAN procedures performed, and we have largest program in a seven-state region (among academic and non-academic providers).
  • We are the first community hospital in Illinois to offer the WATCHMAN device.
  • Our heart team is at the forefront of research related to WATCHMAN, and we participate in several pioneering clinical trials in Illinois.

An advanced alternative to blood thinners

Patients with AFib (a type of irregular heartbeat) are at an increased risk for blood collecting and clotting in the heart. These clots can leave the heart, travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Many patients are prescribed a blood thinner like warfarin to lower the risk of stroke. But these blood thinners have unwanted side effects.

The WATCHMAN device is a first-of-its-kind implant alternative to treat AFib and reduce stroke risk without the need for medication. WATCHMAN is designed to close a pouch in the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA). The device seals off the LAA. Over time, heart tissue grows over the device, and it becomes a permanent part of the body.

With WATCHMAN, a patient no longer has to be on lifelong blood thinners.

A patient's story of survival

Carol Cobb was battling AFib and wanted to stop taking blood thinners because of the side effects. That's when she found an innovative alternative that would reduce her stroke risk without the need for medication. Read Carol's story

Getting the WATCHMAN device at Edward-Elmhurst Health

To implant the device, your surgeon will perform a procedure called a left atrial appendage closure, or LAAC. The doctor will insert a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into a vein in your leg and thread it up to your heart.

Then, we'll pass the WATCHMAN device through the catheter and into the heart. Once in the heart, the WATCHMAN device opens like a parachute or umbrella and permanently seals off the LAA. The fully expanded WATCHMAN device is about the size of a quarter.

Patients usually stay in the hospital overnight after the surgery. You'll need to continue taking your blood-thinning medication until enough heart tissue grows over the WATCHMAN device to close the LAA. Your cardiologist will monitor your progress with a transesophageal echocardiogram, or TEE, which will provide images of your heart as new tissue grows over the device.

Am I a good candidate?

WATCHMAN is a proven, safe alternative to blood thinners for many patients. Good candidates are those who are at an increased risk for stroke, who can take warfarin, and who have nonvalvular AFib (AFib that isn’t related to heart valve disease).

But WATCHMAN isn't for everyone. Patients who may not be good candidates:

  • Are allergic or sensitive to the materials that are used in the device
  • Can't take blood-thinning medicines like warfarin, clopidogrel or aspirin
  • Have a blood clot in the heart
  • Have a device that's been placed in the atrial septum
  • Have an LAA that is too large or small for the WATCHMAN device
  • Have had a surgical repair of the atrial septum (the wall between the heart's upper chambers)

Ready to learn more about the WATCHMAN device?

Ask your doctor for a referral to our Cardiac Innovations & Structural Heart Center at the Heart Hospital of Edward-Elmhurst Health. We'll work with you to determine if WATCHMAN is a good treatment option for your atrial fibrillation. You also can view an animated example of the WATCHMAN procedure:

For more information, call 630-527-3730.

Fill out our online form to request more information