August 24, 2020

Procedure deemed a major step in reducing stroke risk among the six million Americans living with Atrial Fibrillation

HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood has become the first Houston-area hospital to implant a new, next-generation Left Atrial Appendage Closure device as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for patients with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) not caused by a heart valve problem.

Based on technology implanted in more than 100,000 patients worldwide, the new, next-generation Watchman FLX is deemed safer for patients and can treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.

The procedure was performed at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood on August 13 as healthcare providers across the country prepare to focus on September as Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month. Up to six million Americans are estimated to be affected by AF - an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. Patients with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms.

"At HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood, we are committed to providing world-class care close to home," said John Corbeil, the hospital's chief executive officer. "Bringing new, innovative technology and techniques expand the number of patients whose lives we can positively impact. We are extremely proud to be the first hospital in Houston to utilize this life-saving procedure."

The next-generation device 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 blood thinners such as Warfarin.

The permanent Watchman FLX does not have to be replaced and cannot be seen outside the body. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly remain in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.

"I'm thrilled that this new and innovative device is now available to my patients at HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood," said Dr. Strickland. "It offers a safe and meaningful alternative to lifelong blood thinners."