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Published on February 17, 2017

Billings Clinic becomes first hospital in the region to offer WATCHMAN™ Implant for stroke prevention

Billings, MT— Billings Clinic is the first hospital in the region to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to long-term warfarin medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Implant.

AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is potent blood-thinners like warfarin. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications.

The WATCHMAN LAAC is an implant alternative to warfarin to reduce patients’ risk of AF-related stroke.  The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.  By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin. For patients with non-valvular AF, the LAA is believed to be the source of the majority of stroke-causing blood clots should they break loose and travel in the blood stream to the brain. They could also travel to other major organs causing serious harm.

"We are very pleased to be able to offer this device to the people of Billings and our surrounding region," said Dr. Brian Rah, Billings Clinic Department Chair of Cardiology. “This is a very important technological advance that will benefit many people in the prevention of stroke. Billings Clinic has a national reputation of excellence and to ensure best possible results. This device has only been released to those heart centers with the best outcomes and we are proud to be included in that group."

Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for just 24 hours.arketer of medical devices that are used in a broad range of interventional medical specialties.  For more information, please visit:  www.bostonscientific.com.

About WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device from Boston Scientific

The WATCHMAN Device is a permanent implant designed to close the left atrial appendage in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke. With all medical procedures there are risks associated with the implant procedure and the use of the device. The risks include but are not limited to accidental heart puncture, air embolism, allergic reaction, anemia, anesthesia risks, arrhythmias, AV (Arteriovenous) fistula, bleeding or throat pain from the TEE (Trans Esophageal Echo) probe, blood clot or air bubbles in the lungs or other organs, bruising at the catheter insertion site, clot formation on the WATCHMAN™ Closure Device, cranial bleed, excessive bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, groin puncture bleed, hypotension, infection/pneumonia, pneumothorax, pulmonary edema, pulmonary vein obstruction, renal failure, stroke, thrombosis and transient ischemic attack. In rare cases death can occur. Be sure to talk with your doctor so that you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the implantation of the WATCHMAN Device.

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