It’s a common — and serious — problem: Some patients suffering with atrial fibrillation who need advanced life-saving heart procedures cannot take the blood-thinning medications often required.
Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark is providing another option.
Saint Michael’s, which has been named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care for the past five years by Healthgrades, recently began offering the Watchman device.
The Watchman is a small parachute-like device that prevents blood clots from forming in the left atrial appendage, a small pouch that extends from the heart’s upper left chamber.
Patients with atrial fibrillation, or AFib, have an irregular heartbeat that causes blood to pool and clot in the left atrial appendage. Over time, those clots can leave the appendage and travel through the blood vessels to the brain, causing a stroke.
For years, the only treatment available was medication that thinned the blood. However, many patients cannot take blood thinners because of side effects, including severe bruising and nosebleeds.
Dr. Addi Suleiman, an interventional cardiologist at Saint Michael’s, said the Watchman is inserted over the opening of the left atrial appendage, sealing it off and preventing clots from forming.
“The Watchman device will allow patients to have a normal life without having to take blood thinners,” Suleiman said.
Watchman is the latest procedure to be added to Saint Michael’s cardiovascular offerings. The hospital also offers Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement for patients with aortic stenosis, the most common type of heart valve disease. In addition, the hospital offers Mitra Clip, a small device that’s used to stop leaking of the heart’s mitral valve.
“We are very proud to offer these advanced, life-saving treatments to the community we serve,” Dr. Alan Sickles, Saint Michael’s CEO, said. “Providing access to cutting-edge care ensures that every patient, regardless of their background, can embrace a healthier and more hopeful future.”
All of the procedures are done in the hospital’s advanced cardiac catheterization lab, which was recently upgraded with the latest technology. Cardiac catheterization procedures are minimally invasive, using a thin, flexible tube called a catheter that is carefully threaded from the groin or wrist through blood vessels to the heart. Patients are generally discharged the same day or within a few days of the procedure.
Dr. Abbas Shehadeh, the director of Saint Michael’s cardiac catheterization lab as well as director of cardiovascular research, said all of this care fits into the hospital’s longstanding status in the community.
“Saint Michael’s has a legacy and a great reputation when it comes to interventional cardiology,” he said. “It was the first hospital in New Jersey to offer coronary angioplasty, open heart surgery. This is the history of Saint Michael’s. We have always been at the forefront of the latest technology.”
Reach Saint Michael’s Medical Center at: smmcnj.com or call 973-877-5000.