UnityPoint Health - Trinity completes 100th successful WATCHMAN device implant

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 9:38 PM CST
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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - Nearly 800,000 people in the united states experience a stroke each year, according to the CDC. UnityPoint Health - Trinity in the Quad Cities is using a minimally invasive procedure to help reduce stroke risk.

“One patient in his own words said that having this procedure has given him his life back,” said Kathy Pulley, director of cardiology at UnityPoint Health - Trinity.

UnityPoint Health - Trinity started using the WATCHMAN device in 2020.

“Essentially, the watchman device is a plug that closes off the area in the left upper chamber of the heart where blood clots can form in people with atrial fibrillation,” said Mark Kovach, a cardiac electrophysiologist at UnityPoint Health - Trinity.

Atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, is associated with an increased risk of stroke.

“Most of the time, those strokes are caused when blood clots form in the left upper chamber called the appendage,” Kovach said. “The appendage is a little windsock that hangs off the left atrium and, in people that have atrial fibrillation, that windsock does not contract very well.”

The main factor leading to atrial fibrillation is age. Kovach says 10 percent of people over 80 have atrial fibrillation.

The WATCHMAN device is about the size of a quarter in diameter. UnityPoint Health - Trinity is the only healthcare provider in the Quad Cities to offer the WATCHMAN device, and recently successfully implanted its 100th.

“The cardiology team here is really excited that we are able to offer this cutting-edge, innovative procedure for our community right here in the Quad Cities,” Pulley said. “One hundred procedures is a big milestone, and what that means to the (cardiology) team here is that we’ve impacted 100 people’s lives right here in the Quad Cities, and we are very excited about continuing to grow the program.”

UnityPoint Health - Trinity estimates that atrial fibrillation affects more than five million people in the united states. Kovach said the WATCHMAN device procedure takes about 30 to 40 minutes.

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