New Stroke-Preventing Implant Comes To UI

Oct 4, 2015

The University of Iowa’s Heart and Vascular Center will become the first facility in the state to provide a recently-FDA-approved procedure that decreases the risk of stroke in patients with a type of irregular heartbeat. 

Generally those with non-valvular atrial fibrillation take powerful blood thinners like warfarin, which requires some patients to make lifestyle changes due to an increased risk of bleeding, bruising, or hemorrhagic stroke. Now some patients can quit the medication and instead undergo left atrial appendage occlusion, which plugs the left atrium with the "watchman" device, manufactured by Boston Scientific Corporation. 

Shaped like an umbrella, the watchman device permanently implants in the heart to keep clots from entering the blood stream.

Interventional cardiologist Dr. Phillip Horwitz says the process starts with making a few millimeter-wide hole in the leg.

"And these catheters are guided up under e-ray guidance and special ultrasound guidance," says Horwitz. "At the end, all the catheters are pulled out and the patient who underwent it, is left with just a little hole in the vein of their leg."

Horwitz and colleague Dr. Michael Guidici will likely preform the first procedure later this month.