MVHS innovative heart procedure reaches milestone

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Mohawk Valley Health System, in partnership with Central New York Cardiology, will perform the 100th Watchman procedure at its St. Elizabeth Campus Wednesday, April 21.

Watchman is an innovative, one-time procedure that reduces the risk of strokes that originate in the left atrial appendage. The procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Michael Sassower, of CNY Cardiology, has emerged as a life-changing alternative for people who live with a daily risk of stroke and who want an alternative to drug treatment therapy.

The Watchman is a device which is inserted into the LAA of the heart through a small incision in the groin. The implant procedure does not require open-heart surgery and is typically performed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation. To date, the device has been implanted in more than 50,000 patients around the world.

“I am proud of the program and the partnership we have developed here at MVHS,” said Dr. Sassower. “The Watchman device is an important part of stroke management for patients with atrial fibrillation, especially patients who should be on oral anticoagulation but cannot take it for various reasons.” 

In addition to reducing the risk of stroke, the device removes the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of blood thinners like Warfarin (also known as Coumadin). The procedure has been available at MVHS since 2019.

According to Dr. Sassower, once the device is implanted it forms a seal, permanently closing off the LAA and reducing the risk of stroke in patients with an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation) who are not suitable for blood thinners. 

The procedure usually lasts up to an hour using minimally-invasive techniques. Most patients are discharged the next day and can expect a fast and generally painless recovery.

Patients who are interested in the Watchman procedure should talk to their primary care physician or cardiologist, or call CNY Cardiology at 315-733-7598.

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