Treating Patients on Blood Thinners with Implantable Device

Published Date : Nov 27, 2015

A new way has been developed to treat patients on blood thinners – one that does not involve medication. 

The Watchman is a tiny implantable device, which resembles an umbrella, implanted in the heart. 

Dr. Adam Saltzman of Southcoast Health, Rhode Island said that this device helps plug the hole and stops the clot from coming out and traveling to the brain. 

After years of taking Coumadin, Mary Johnson was fitted with the Watchman on September 9 this year. Johnson said that even though Coumadin has been a lifesaving drug, there were many side effects to the medication and she had a lot of bruising. There was also a whole list of foods such as Brussels sprouts and leafy vegetables that she could not eat. 

Mary was therefore chosen as a candidate for the Watchman implantable device.

Medical director of Southcoast Health’s Atrial Fibrillation Wellness Program Dr. Nitesh Sood said that there is no reason to rush into it if people are doing well. However, people who bike, ski, and are otherwise active and want to live a normal life without constantly worrying about bleeding will find the Watchman to be a reasonable alternative to blood thinners, Dr. Sood added. 

However, he warned that in order to qualify for this implantable device, the patient will have to first tolerate blood thinners for a duration of six weeks.

Dr. Sood said that most patients can tolerate blood thinners for the short term. Four to six weeks after the surgery, a follow up echocardiogram will be taken to assess the situation. If the implantable device seems to be well seeded without any leaks around it, the patients’ anticoagulation will be stopped. 

If all looks good after six months, patients will only be required to take a baby aspirin on a daily basis.