Left Atrial Appendage Closure

Watchman™ Device Captures Blood Clots in A-fib Patients

In the upper left chamber of the heart (left atrium), a small pouch of tissue called the left atrial appendage (LAA) is a place where blood can collect and form clots in patients with a common heart rhythm problem. If clots are pushed out of the heart, they can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. To catch these clots before they leave the heart, doctors can implant a Watchman™ device, an umbrella-shaped filter about the size of a quarter.

A specially trained physician implants the device by inserting a tube called a catheter into a vein near the groin. The catheter is advanced to the left side of the heart. The closure device is deployed in the LAA where it expands and is secured into place.

Blood can flow in and out, but clots that form in the LAA are trapped there. Eventually, heart tissue grows over Watchman, permanently closing the LAA and preventing blood from pooling there.

Is Watchman Right for You?

Watchman is designed to prevent strokes in people with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (A-Fib), an irregular heartbeat caused by electrical disturbances in the heart. A-fib causes the upper chambers of the heart to stop squeezing normally; this can increase the risk of blood clots forming.

People with non-valvular A-Fib are five times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. Studies show that clots that form in the LAA are the leading cause of strokes in people with irregular heart rhythms that are not caused by valve problems. 

Traditionally, doctors have prescribed blood thinners for people with non-valvular A-Fib to reduce clot formation and stroke risk. Watchman may be an effective treatment option for you if you have A-Fib not caused by heart valve problems and you are unable to take blood thinners.

Reasons for not taking blood thinners may include:

  • You have a history of major bleeding while on blood thinners.
  • You have a medical condition, lifestyle, or job that puts you at risk for major bleeding.
  • You have strength or walking problems that increase the risk of falling.
  • Your blood clots at a slower-than-normal rate, making you more likely to have bleeding problems when taking blood thinners.

Why Choose University of Iowa for Your Heart Care

It’s important to have a medical team who can evaluate the risks and potential benefits of different approaches to stroke prevention. You also want a center that can offer you a broad range of options and the experience to provide the treatment option that is best for you.

The University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center is one of a select group of centers in the United States that offers left atrial appendage closure for patients with non-valvular A-Fib.

Our board-certified physicians have fellowship training and special expertise in LAA closure with this device, and people come from across Iowa and the Midwest to receive this and other cutting-edge heart procedures. Our patients benefit from our experience and our excellent outcomes.

Experience does matter.

Our physicians are experienced in performing LAA closure, and we are one of the only centers in Iowa using the Watchman device.

Greater experience translates to better outcomes.

The experience we’ve gained from our large volume of catheter-based heart procedures has helped us to achieve a high procedural success rate.

All of our specialists are University of Iowa physician faculty.

Our patient care benefits directly from access to the latest medical procedures and technology, as well as from our participation in cutting-edge national and international research. 

We offer atrial fibrillation expertise.

The University of Iowa is the most comprehensive atrial fibrillation treatment center in Iowa. Our nationally recognized group of cardiac electrophysiologists offers the widest range of atrial fibrillation treatments available anywhere in the region.

Care Team