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Wheeling Hospital Gives Heart Patients a New Option

The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute’s structural heart team at Wheeling Hospital is now offering an option for some arterial fibrillation patients that provides an alternative to lifelong blood thinner use.

The team is performing implants with the next-generation Watchman FLX device on AF patients without a heart-valve problem, the hospital recently announced. It is the only FDA-approved device that reduces stroke risk in patients with that condition.

Wheeling Hospital is the first and only in the region to offer the Watchman FLX. This device most helps patients who can’t use blood thinners due to persistent bleeding or a high risk of bleeding.

Members of the Watchman team are: Christopher Allen, M.D., Chief of Cardiology; Deepak Hooda, M.D.; Michael Campsey, M.D.; Christopher Kolibash, M.D.; and Ramesh Daggubati, M.D.

“As a structural heart team we are grateful for the continued support provided by the Wheeling Hospital administration,” said Campsey, who also is Wheeling Hospital’s chief medical officer. “The success of this program is about more than just one or two physicians who are skilled at doing procedures.  A high quality program like the one here at Wheeling Hospital requires a solid foundation of leadership and commitment by everyone involved.”

Up to 6 million Americans are estimated to be affected by AF — an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart. People with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms.

The Watchman FLX device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream 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 their blood thinner medication.

The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood thinning medication, such as warfarin. Blood thinners are effective, but increase the risk of serious bleeding over time, and come with certain requirements and restrictions.

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