Baptist Health Care First in Region to Offer Watchman Procedure

  To view a testimonial on the Watchman procedure please view coverage from WEAR-TV by clicking here.

Pensacola, Fla. (September 7, 2016) - Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute (BHVI) now offers a treatment that may reduce the risk for strokes in people with atrial fibrillation. The Watchman procedure often has the added benefit of eliminating the need for blood thinning medications. This first procedure was performed at Baptist Hospital in August.

"Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute is the first and only health care provider on the Gulf Coast to offer all three of today's leading-edge technologies in structural heart disease treatment – MitraClip, TAVR and now Watchman. These procedures put us in the same league as major medical centers around the world and give our patients the ability to remain close to home for their heart care," said Saurabh Sanon, M.D., structural heart disease expert and interventional cardiologist.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, occurs when the upper chambers of the heart beat out of coordination with the lower chambers, causing sporadic heart palpitations that can allow blood to stagnate in the left atrial appendage (LAA) and eventually clot. These clots can break away and enter the blood stream, causing a stroke. AFib patients are five times greater risk for stroke. Because of this risk, many AFib patients take warfarin, an anti-coagulant or blood thinner.

The Watchman device is a self-expanding nickel titanium frame with fixation anchors and is covered by a surgical fabric (it looks like a tiny jelly fish). The device can be threaded through a vein in the leg and into the heart where it is implanted at the opening of the LAA. This serves as a barrier to prevent clots from entering into the blood stream. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia in the catheterization laboratory and usually lasts about an hour followed by a 24-hour hospital stay. Patients remain on warfarin for 45 days following the procedure. After that time, if the closure is successful, patients may be taken off warfarin completely.

Patients who may be considered for the Watchman procedure have non-valvular atrial fibrillation, have issues with long-term warfarin use and are at increased risk for stroke.

For more videos about Watchman LAA closure and other procedures available at the BHVI, visit For appointments call 850.484.6500.