Left Atrial Appendage Closure (WATCHMAN™)

Left atrial appendage (LAA) closure is a procedure intended to benefit patients with atrial fibrillation.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF), or AFib, is an irregular, quivering, and often rapid heartbeat.

Over six million people are affected by AFib in the U.S.1 The average person with atrial fibrillation is five times more likely to have a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat due to the fact that AFib can decrease the heart’s pumping capacity by as much as 30%.1 Because blood isn’t pumped out of the heart normally, it’s easier for blood cells to stick together and form clots in the LAA.1,When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.3,4

Left Atrial Appendage (LAA)

More than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA.



Blood Clot & Stroke

A blood clot that travels to the brain can cause a stroke.


Signs & Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

  • Palpitations – sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flip-flopping in your chest
  • Weakness
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Reducing AFib Stroke Risk

Blood thinners, also called anticoagulants, are an effective way to lower the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation not caused by heart valve problems.

But some people need an alternative to blood thinners, because they can increase the risk of bleeding.5 Some bleeding events are minor and easily treated, like a cut taking longer than normal to stop bleeding. In other cases, the bleeding can be life-threatening, such as when bleeding in the brain causes a stroke.

If you have a history of bleeding or a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for bleeding, your doctor may consider an alternative to blood thinners, such as the WATCHMAN Implant.

What is the WATCHMAN Implant?

The WATCHMAN Implant is a small, parachute-shaped piece that is implanted during a minimally invasive catheter procedure that does not require surgery. A catheter is inserted into a vein near the groin and guided to the LAA. The WATCHMAN Implant seals off the LAA to prevent it from releasing potentially dangerous clots.


In people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, more than 90% of stroke-causing clots from the heart are formed in the LAA.3 That’s why closing off this part of the heart is an effective way to reduce stroke risk.

The WATCHMAN Implant fits right into your LAA. It’s designed to permanently close it off and keep those blood clots from escaping.

The WATCHMAN Implant is about the size of a quarter and made from very light and compact materials commonly used in many medical implants.

Science always looks for ways to make effective treatments even better. WATCHMAN is no exception. The WATCHMAN FLX design is an advancement that enables the implant to fit a greater number of patients, giving more people than ever a safe, effective alternative to blood thinners should they need one.



How is WATCHMAN Implanted?

WATCHMAN is implanted into your heart in a minimally invasive, one-time procedure. To implant WATCHMAN, your doctor makes a small cut in your upper leg and inserts a narrow tube, as done in a standard stent procedure. Your doctor then guides WATCHMAN into your heart’s LAA. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day.

After the Procedure

Following the WATCHMAN procedure, your doctor will prescribe you blood-thinning medication for 45 days or until your LAA is permanently closed off. During this time, heart tissue will grow over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots. Your doctor will monitor this process by taking pictures of your heart to see when you can stop taking your blood thinners.

In a clinical trial, 96% of people were able to stop taking blood thinners just 45 days after the WATCHMAN procedure.6

After being discharged from the hospital, it is important that you:

  • Limit strenuous physical activity (such as jogging or activities that cause breath-holding, grunting, or straining such as lifting heavy objects) for at least 30 days, or longer if your doctor thinks it is necessary.
  • Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions regarding medications you need to take, especially if blood-thinning drugs are prescribed.
  • Call your doctor if you cannot keep taking your medications because of side effects, such as rash, bleeding, or upset stomach.

Patient Resources

Click here for more details about WATCHMAN.

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