<< Back

This Implantable Device Can Help Patients With AFib Get Off Blood Thinners

July 20, 2023

If you have AFib, your doctor has already talked to you about your risk of stroke. For many patients, there’s a go-to solution: blood thinners. But what if that’s not an option for you? An implantable device like the WATCHMAN could be your answer — led by a multidisciplinary team that’s delivering the best outcomes in Connecticut. [insert-cta-small id=50432]

Would the AFib implant work for you?

To start, there are two big questions: Do you have non-valvular AFib? And, according to your health team, are you at a high risk of stroke? Just answering “yes” and “yes” doesn’t mean the implant is your best solution. After all, when it comes to stroke protection, blood thinner medication does the trick for most people. But not everyone. “It’s a conversation between a patient and their doctor,” says interventional cardiologist Bryan Piccirillo, MD, who helped create the AFib implant program at Hartford HealthCare’s Heart & Vascular Institute. Which brings us to our next question. > Related: Can Wearable Tech Like Smartwatches Actually Detect AFib?

Do you need to avoid blood thinners?

Do you have a condition that prevents you from taking blood thinners, like a bleeding disorder or ulcers? Or a lifestyle where you tend to get banged up, and a blood thinner could mean serious bleeding? Here’s where the AFib implant really comes in: stroke protection without a blood thinner. “We’ve helped patients who would still like to remain active in activities that would increase their risk of bleeding, like auto mechanics or people who enjoy extreme skiing,” says Dr. Piccirillo. “We’ve helped patients who couldn’t tolerate a blood thinner because of a history of intracranial hemorrhage.” “By implanting this device,” he says, “we’re able to provide that stroke protection while improving their quality of life.” Want more health news? Text StartHere to 85209 to sign up for text alerts

Implantable devices for AFib include the WATCHMAN — and others.

The WATCHMAN device is probably the best-known AFib implant, and it’s a mainstay of Hartford HealthCare’s program. But everyone’s heart is structured a little differently. To reach even more patients, the program will soon introduce a second device, which can help patients with more challenging heart anatomies. It’s another way Hartford HealthCare is leading the state in this cutting-edge technology. “By bringing a second left atrial appendage device to our practices, we’ll be able to touch even more patients,” says Dr. Piccirillo.

If an AFib implant is right for you, we have the best outcomes in the state.

Hartford HealthCare began offering implantable AFib devices like the WATCHMAN in 2020. Since, demand has skyrocketed. “This is a program we have a lot of pride in, and we’ve worked hard to make it safe,” says Dr. Piccirillo. The procedure to place the device, called a left atrial appendage occlusion, uses a thin tube threaded through the leg veins to the heart — no open-heart surgery required. Most patients go home the same day. The device never needs to be replaced. For each procedure, Hartford HealthCare uses a broader group of experts than any other health system in the state. “We have a multidisciplinary team of interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists, and structural heart echocardiographers with each procedure,” says Dr. Piccirillo. “That’s unique to Hartford HealthCare. And it shows in our outcomes.”