New heart device to reduce strokes comes to St. Francis Medical Center

Local News

MONROE, La (10/31/19) — St. Francis Medical Center welcomed a new device for people who struggle with heart problems or have had a stroke.

It requires no open heart surgery and is completely safe to use.

The Watchman device is brand new for Northeast Louisiana and St. Francis is excited about offering the new procedure.

It gives patients in the NELA area a chance to be exposed to modern technology without driving to Shreveport or Baton Rouge.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 2.7 million people are known to have Atrial Fibrillation. A condition where an irregular heart beat can lead to blood clots or strokes.

To treat AFib, doctors usually prescribe blood thinners. For some patients, however, the thinners may not be enough treatment.

“Now we have an option which is this new procedure. Fairly new in the united states, new here obviously in town, which is the watchman device,” said Dr. Alvaro Manrique, Cardiologist at St. Francis.

Getting the Watchman device implanted eliminates the need for open heart surgery.

“We put a small catheter in the patients groin and the catheter goes all the way to the patients heart and goes to the left side and deploys the device, which looks like a small umbrella and opens in the apex,” said Manrique.

The Watchman device stops the blood from entering the heart and reduces the patient’s risk of the blood getting to the brain and causing a stroke.

Recovery time is also reduced and patients can return home within a week.

“The procedure takes less than two hours to do it from beginning to end and a lot of the time it’s preparation for the procedure. Once it’s deployed, the patient goes home and in 45 days we re-check the device and if everything is okay, they can stop taking the blood thinners and they’ll be protected against strokes,” said Manrique.

Once the procedure happens, the device stays in the patient’s heart forever.

St. Francis also says 99% of people who have the Watchman implanted are able to stop using blood thinners within a year or less.

To learn more about the Watchman, click here.

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