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The WATCHMAN Procedure for Stroke Risk Reduction

If you have atrial fibrillation not caused by heart valve problems and need an alternative to blood thinners, ask your doctor about the WATCHMAN procedure. This procedure reduces stroke risk and the long-term risk of bleeding.

Billings Clinic is among the first hospitals in our region to implant the new WATCHMAN left atrial appendage closure device. This first-of-its-kind device is a proven alternative to long-term warfarin therapy for stroke risk reduction in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF).

WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure that reduces the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. WATCHMAN is as effective at reducing the risk of stroke as warfarin. But unlike warfarin, the WATCHMAN Implant also reduces the long-term risk of bleeding. Newer blood thinners offer an option to warfarin, but they don't take away the long-term risk of bleeding.

The WATCHMAN Procedure

WATCHMAN Patient Information Video

The WATCHMAN procedure patient information guide

Video Credit: Boston Scientific

WATCHMAN is implanted like a stent, by means of a narrow tube inserted through a small cut in your upper leg. Your doctor will then guide WATCHMAN into your heart. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.


The WATCHMAN Implant has a proven record of safety—with over 20,000 procedures performed worldwide and over 10 years of clinical studies in more than 2,000 patients. It is the only device of its kind approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


WATCHMAN is for people who:

  • Have atrial fibrillation not caused by heart valve problems
  • Have been recommended to take blood thinning medicines by their doctor
  • Can take warfarin but need an alternative to blood thinners because they have a history of bleeding or a lifestyle that puts them at risk for bleeding

If this sounds like you, ask your doctor about WATCHMAN.


WATCHMAN is covered for eligible Medicare patients who meet certain national coverage criteria. It is also covered by an increasing number of commercial insurers. WATCHMAN is different from blood thinners not only in how it works, but in how much it costs. Whereas blood thinners must be taken every day for life and represent an ongoing cost, WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure and one-time cost. This means WATCHMAN can save you money over time. Over a 5-year period, the estimated average out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries were lower for WATCHMAN than for warfarin.

For additional information, visit

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Ask your primary care provider about the WATCHMAN procedure

or call Tanja Sloan, PA, WATCHMAN Coordinator


800-332-7156 ext. 2004

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