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Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Treatment Alternative Available at Westchester Medical Center to Prevent Stroke for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

Westchester Medical Center is among the first hospitals in the nation to offer innovative WATCHMAN technology

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Patients who have an increased risk of stroke due to an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation and who cannot use blood thinners can now take advantage of a lifesaving alternative offered at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).  

As a regional leader in cardiac care, Westchester Medical Center has begun offering a new technology called the WATCHMAN, which offers a catheter-based alternative to blood thinners for preventing stroke in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, a condition characterized by a fast, irregular heartbeat. 

“Because of our expertise in performing delicate cardiac procedures, Westchester Medical Center is among a select group of hospitals nationwide to offer this treatment to atrial fibrillation patients who previously had no other alternative,’’ said Sei Iwai, MD, FACC, FHRS, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Westchester Medical Center.   “We are excited to offer a life-saving alternative for our patients whose risk for stroke makes them ineligible for traditional treatments.”

The Westchester Medical Center cardiology team, including Dr. Iwai, Ryan Kaple, MD, and Mala Sharma, MBBS, has already performed the first WATCHMAN procedures with excellent outcomes.

Because the upper chambers (atria) of the heart don’t squeeze normally in atrial fibrillation, an outpouching, called the left atrial appendage, can collect blood that can then clot and travel in the bloodstream to the brain, causing a stroke. The standard treatment is using blood thinners to eliminate the risk of clotting and stroke, but some patients are prohibited from using these treatments long-term. The WATCHMAN technology enables interventional cardiologists to cap off the appendage using a procedure that involves threading a catheter through the groin area and into the left atrium where the WATCHMAN device is inserted to seal the opening. The technology is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

WMCHealth’s Heart and Vascular Institute remains at the forefront of advanced cardiac technology in the Hudson Valley and beyond. For example, the WMCHealth Heart and Vascular Institute’s cardiac electrophysiologists have performed approximately 500 atrial fibrillation ablation procedures. In April, cardiac interventionists performed their 300th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. The cardiac teams also perform hybrid catheter ablations, laser lead extractions, and transcatheter mitral valve and tricuspid valve repair using the MitraClip® device, patent foramen ovale (PFO) closures, and alcohol septal ablations (for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy).