Living Well: New Device Helping to Prevent Strokes

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – People with an irregular heartbeat are now using a device to help prevent a stroke. 

A regular heartbeat is a good sign for Susie Wells of Dumas.

Prior to a follow up visit at Baptist Health, she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation or AFib, which is also known as an irregular heartbeat.

“Your heart’s out of rhythm and beating real fast,” she explains. 

Doctors say people with AFib are at higher risk for a stroke. 

Some of those patients start off by taking blood thinner medication, but doctors told Susie about a device that could help reduce the risk. It’s called: Watchman.

Dr. Blake Norris says getting a Watchman is a safe procedure and it’s there for the rest of your life.

“It goes in and deploys in a small pocket on the side of the heart to decrease the risk of stroke,” says Dr. Norris, a Cardiac Electrophysiologist.

Norris says the Watchman is inserted in the atrial appendage pocket of the heart. 

Once it deploys, the Watchman closes off the opening so blood clots can’t form there and lead to a stroke.

“Most people won’t feel anything,” Dr. Norris adds. “The device itself takes about 30, 45 minutes up to an hour to place. “

In Susie’s case, she got the Watchman implant, stayed in intensive care that evening and went home the next day.

“My heart started beating like it’s supposed to, so I feel good,” said Susie. 

Beating to a rhythm…this little device may just save Susie’s life.

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