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Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - Roper Hospital snags new alternative to blood thinners for stroke prevention

Roper Hospital is one of the first hospitals in South Carolina to offer a unique new technology, the Watchman device.

Watchman reduces stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation who are unable to take blood thinning medications such as Coumadin, Pradaxa, Eliquis, Xarelto and Savaysa for an extended period of time.

Dr. Matthew O’Steen and Dr. Brett Baker have implanted Watchman devices in 28 patients since March.

“Afib is one of the leading causes of stroke, and we are excited to offer a new alternative therapy for patients who are unable to safely take long term anticoagulants,” Baker said.

The umbrella-shaped device is placed in the heart through a leg vein and seals off the opening in the heart where clots typically form and break off to cause strokes. The tissue in the heart eventually seals over the device.

A cardiologist performs a transesophageal echocardiogram to determine whether the device can be placed.

The procedure takes about one hour to perform, and patients are discharged the next day. There is no surgical incision or extended recovery time.

Patients do have to be able to take a short course of Warfarin following implant.

Examples of patients with afib who may not be able to safely take blood thinners for a long time include those who have suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, bleeding in their brain, easy bruising and are high risk for falls. Patients who cannot take blood thinners for any period of time or are allergic to nickel or titanium are not candidates for this device. Patients who have had certain types of heart defect repairs may also not be candidates for device placement, which can be determined by a physician.

To learn more, call (843) 724-AFIB.

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