Today, patients have a safe option to reduce their risk of damaging strokes and blood clots.

Methodist Heart Hospital is the first private hospital in South Texas to offer heart disease patients a breakthrough option for reducing stroke risk and an alternative to long-term use of blood-thinners. More than two million people in the U.S. are estimated to be on blood thinners. Not only is the new technology of the WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant relieving patients of ongoing finger pricks and medication complications, but the constant fear of a stroke will be a thing of the past.

“For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (abnormal heartbeat) who are seeking an alternative to warfarin, the WATCHMAN™ Implant offers a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy,” said Jorge Alvarez, MD, who performs the procedure at Methodist Heart.

The permanent heart implant is the size of a quarter and significantly reduces a patient's risk of stroke and blood clots. The device is designed to act as a barrier, stopping blood clots where they are formed in a pouch called the left atrial appendage.

Preventing harmful blood clots from entering the blood stream is critical in reducing the risk of stroke and is often more effective than taking a blood thinner.

The WATCHMAN™ device is guided through the heart by inserting a catheter through a vein in the upper leg. The implant does not require open-heart surgery and is typically performed under general anesthesia. Once the implant is positioned, it is released and permanently affixed to the patient's heart. Patients typically recover within 24 hours and are medication free within several months of the procedure.

Read Julia Poole's story.