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“Watchman” procedure ends dependence on blood-thinners

As many as six million people in the U.S. with atrial fibrillation take warfarin, coumadin and other blood thinners to control stroke risks.

In Joplin, Freeman Hospital cardiologist Dr. Ryan Longnecker says a new “Watchman” procedure works by inserting an implant that closes an area in the heart associated with stroke.

The  implant is a minimally invasive, one-time procedure that addresses the danger of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve condition.

“This is actually a self-expanding device,” he explains. “There are no balloons or stents involved with it.”

“It is kind of like an acorn,” he states.”One it gets into the left atrial appendage it kind of pops open. Over time. the skin of the heart will endotheialize it – basically incorporate it in – so there is no longer a hole there.”

Dr. Longenecker says a successful procedure means patients will need nothing stronger than low-dose aspirin.

70-year-old Jane Smith, says she had the procedure almost two weeks ago.

She says the best part is she no longer has to worry about stroke caused by atrial fibrillation.

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