Health Team

Device helps ward off stroke in patients with irregular heart beats

Posted April 3, 2015

An irregular heart rhythm is a major risk factor for stroke, but a new device can lower the risk in patients with atrial fibrillation.

Surgeons at Mount Sinai Hospital implanted the FDA-approved device – called the Watchman – in Margaret Cienki, who has atrial fibrillation.

“I was advised it would be very good for me,” said Cienki, 80. “I’m ready for whatever has to be done.”

The parachute-shaped device was implanted through a vein in her leg, closing off an area of the heart where blood clots form.

“So any clots that would form there can’t travel to the brain and cause a stroke,” Dr. Vivek Reddy said.

A-fib patients such as Cienki usually have to take blood thinners to prevent clots, but that comes with problems such as bleeding.

“Elderly patients, when they are at risk for falling, of course, they can hurt themselves badly if they are on blood thinners,” Reddy said.

Research shows the Watchman is very effective, so Cienki can stop taking blood thinners.

That's a relief for her son, Paul.

“Hopefully, this will be the last procedure and not be on drugs anymore,” he said.

Doctors say recovery is fairly quick. Cienki went home the next day.


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