MVHS offers innovative heart procedure to reduce stroke risk


UTICA – The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS), in partnership with Central New York (CNY) Cardiology, has officially begun offering the “Watchman” procedure to the community.

Executed by both Dr. Michael Sassower and Dr. Michael K. Amponsah , both of CNY Cardiology, “the Watchman procedure is an innovative, one time procedure that reduces the risk of strokes that originate in the left atrial appendage (LAA),” MVHS said in its announcement.

“Not only does it reduce the risk of stroke, but it removes the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of blood thinners like Warfarin (also known as Coumadin),” the MVHS announcement added.

The Watchman is a device that is inserted into the LAA of the heart via a small incision in the groin, MVHS added. The implant procedure does not require open-heart surgery and is typically performed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation.

“The Watchman device is an important step forward in stroke management for patients with atrial fibrillation,” said Sassower. “A significant number of patients who should be on oral anticoagulation cannot take it for numerous reasons. Watchman is a breakthrough treatment providing those patients who are suitable for blood thinners with an alternative to long-term blood thinner therapy, while still reducing the risk of stroke.”

The procedure usually lasts up to an hour with a fast and generally painless recovery, allowing the patient to be discharged the next day.

By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke can be reduced in patients with an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation) who are not suitable for blood thinners. Over time, heart tissue grows over the Watchman device and the LAA is permanently sealed, MVHS said.

“Adding the Watchman procedure to the list of services offered to our patients is just another step in the development of a comprehensive structural heart program here at MVHS,” said Amponsah.

“By providing such an advanced option of care and technology with minimal down time to our patients, we are further able to provide our community with the excellence in heart care and healthcare that they deserve,” he added.


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