HEART HEALTH

The Only to Offer WATCHMAN in the Capital Region

New heart procedure could be a ‘game-changer’ for AFib patients in the Capital Region

Patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) are at five times greater risk of developing stroke. Starting in 2015, Dr. Augustin DeLago, President of Capital Cardiology Associates, began practicing an alternative to treatment for patients with AFib known as The WATCHMAN. “The WATCHMAN is a device that doesn’t treat AFib, but it essentially blocks off an area of the heart where 90-95% of all blood clots form in patients with atrial fibrillation,” shared Dr. DeLago.

Today, Capital Cardiology Associates is proud to announce our practice is one of a handful of pioneers leading the way offering procedures and treatment to A-Fib patients. “We have implanted over 100 WATCHMAN devices, and Capital Cardiology Associates is the only center in the Capital Region offering this procedure,” stated Dr. DeLago.

An estimated five million Americans are affected by AFib an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. People with untreated atrial fibrillation may be at higher risk for stroke than people with normal heart rhythms. Because blood does not flow through the atria regularly, blood clots may form in the heart. If a blood clot escapes from the heart, it can travel through the bloodstream to the brain and cause a stroke.

The WATCHMAN, which has been implanted in more than 50,000 patients worldwide, is a permanent implant device that closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. “I consider it the appendix of the heart, it’s a vestigial organ, you don’t need it,” said Dr. DeLago. “The LAA is important in embryonic development, but as an adult, you don’t need it. It’s only a place that harbors blood clots.” By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

Patients with AFib may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
• Heart palpitations (a sudden pounding, fluttering, or racing feeling in the chest)
• Lack of energy, feeling tired
• Dizziness, or a sense of faintness or light-headedness
• Chest discomfort (pain, pressure, or tightness in the chest)
• Shortness of breath

Is The WATCHMAN right for you?

“There are a group of patients that have had previous bleeding on traditional blood thinners or the new medications that you see advertised like crazy on TV,” began Dr. DeLago. “They have had a previous event. I tell them that if you have had a major bleed while on one of these medications, your mortality rate can be as much as 13%. We tell them that they have to come off these medications because there is no alternative. With The WATCHMAN, we can give hope to the hopeless. We can put this device in and reduce their instance of stroke as if they were on COUMADIN (traditional blood thinner), giving them reduce stroke incidents without increasing their bleeding problems.”

If you have a history of bleeding or a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for bleeding, WATCHMAN may be right for you. But like any medical procedure, WATCHMAN comes with risks, so it isn’t right for everyone. Your cardiologist will weigh your risk of a stroke against your risk of a serious bleeding problem to determine the right treatment for you. For more information, patient education videos, or to schedule an appointment with our WATCHMEN team, click below.

Written by: Michael Arce, Media Specialist Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.