Baptist Health Paducah first in region to offer next-generation permanent heart implant

March 10, 2021

Device offers AFib patients an alternative to blood thinners.

Doctors showing Watchman FLX device(Paducah, Ky.) March 10, 2021 — This week Baptist Health Paducah became the first hospital in the region to offer the next-generation WATCHMAN FLX™ device to patients with atrial fibrillation.

Cardiologists Michael Faulkner, MD, Martin Rains, MD, and J. Kenneth Ford, MD, successfully implanted the WATCHMAN FLX Left Atrial Appendage Closure device on patients with AFib during procedures on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The hospital was the first in the region to offer the original WATCHMAN device in 2018. The next-generation device has a new design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes. It offers select patients with AFib an alternative to blood thinners to prevent a potentially life-threatening stroke.

The WATCHMAN FLX™ is implanted in the heart in a one-time procedure through a catheter, similar to a standard stent procedure. It is placed in the left atrial appendage of the heart, blocking off the part which 91 percent of all strokes related to AFib originate.

Up to six million Americans are estimated to be affected by AFib – an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. People with AFib have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN FLX device closes off the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner, such as warfarin.

The device has been implanted in more than 150,000 patients worldwide and is a one-time procedure. The permanent device does not have to be replaced and cannot be seen outside the body. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight.

Heart patients should contact their cardiologist to see if they are a candidate for the WATCHMAN FLX.