CASPER, Wyo. (Jan. 31, 2022) – Banner Wyoming Medical Center became the first hospital in the state to offer WATCHMAN heart implant devices this month. The procedure lowers bleeding risk and risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation.
“I never had any second thought,” said Mitchell Salloum, 74, of Casper. He received the first known WATCHMAN implant device in the state on Jan. 13. “I feel great. I had it done on a Thursday and went back to work on Monday.”
Atrial fibrillation, also known commonly as AFib, is the most common heart rhythm disturbance. AFib increases stroke risk fivefold on average. AFib affects 33 million people today. From this population of 33 million people there is a substantial number of patients whose AFib is not caused by an artificial heart valve. In these patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, 90% of strokes are caused by blood clots in the left atrial appendage.
“We are so happy to be able to offer this procedure for our patients,” said Adrian Fluture, MD, medical director of cardiovascular services at Banner Wyoming Medical Center and the interventional cardiologist who performed the first procedure. “The structural heart program is a reality in Wyoming today.” In March 2020, Banner Wyoming Medical Center was also the first in the state to start offering the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, and the hospital also offers percutaneous closures of patent foramen ovale and atrial septal defects.
For patients at risk of bleeding while on blood thinners, WATCHMAN is offered to reduce this complication. The WATCHMAN device implant procedure is simple and safe with a same-day discharge and sometimes an overnight hospital stay. The permanent device is designed to close the left atrial appendage in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke for AFib patients. It has been proven in multiple studies to be as effective as warfarin and with a much lower bleeding risk.
Salloum says he feels better too, especially since he had a heart attack in November 2020. “I didn’t think I would feel better so quick,” he said.
Strokes due to AFib are often debilitating with a high rate of recurrence. Physicians prescribe blood thinners such as warfarin in an attempt to thin the blood and prevent these strokes. However, thinning the blood increases the risk of internal bleeding that can be life threatening. Any patient with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem can opt in for the WATCHMAN procedure if they have a high bleeding risk. If a patient wants to get off blood thinners, they should discuss this option with their physician.
About Banner Wyoming Medical Center
Wyoming Medical Center is the state’s largest hospital with 249 beds, more than 45 medical specialties and 13 primary, specialty and immediate care clinics. As a regional trauma and referral center, we serve 11 Wyoming counties with more than 250,000 people. We are Casper’s only full-service, non-profit hospital with comprehensive heart, stroke and trauma care. For more information, visit wyomingmedicalcenter.org.
The team who performed the procedures from left to right:
Maranda Morris, RN; Mayson Easum, RN; Haylee Todd, RN, structural heart coordinator; Aaron McGee; Colin Gransbery, RN, cath lab coordinator; Brittany Murphy, RN; Drew Parsell; James Donahue, Baylis Medical; Adrian Fluture, MD, medical director of cardiovascular services; Bryan Adams, Boston Scientific; Kerry Engelking, MD, anesthesiologist