The Watchman Device: An Alternative Treatment in Atrial Fibrillation
Stroke prevention is an important aspect in the management of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). The 2019 Guideline for Management of Patients with Atrial Fibrillation recommends DOACs as first line, but warfarin is also still widely used. These medications are effective but their systemic effect on the body require careful monitoring to avoid serious adverse events, contraindications, and other drug-drug interactions. As a result, many patients do not adhere or cannot tolerate the medications, therefore physicians continue to search for alternatives. The latest focus has been on the Watchman Device, a device that essentially seals off the left atrial appendage closure (LAAC). The LAAC is an area in the heart where blood clots often form in patients with AFib. The Watchman device prevents the clots in this area from escaping, lowering the risk of stroke. Though the Watchman device has been shown to be an effective non-pharmacological substitute, careful patient consideration remains an emphasis when choosing treatment. Staying informed and knowing what treatment options are available, along with understanding the patient and his/her preferences, can aid in deciding on the most effective option to prevent stroke.