Stormont Vail Launches New Cardiac Procedure to Reduce Stroke Risk

Stormont Vail logo 1(Topeka, Kan., October 9, 2017) – Stormont Vail Health is the first in the area using a new device called the Watchman, a first-of-its-kind, minimally invasive, local solution for stroke risk reduction in patients with atrial fibrillation.

“The Watchman device is a permanent implant designed to close off the left atrial appendage so blood clots can’t form there and escape to cause a stroke,” said cardiac electrophysiologist Alap Shah, M.D. “It is proven to lower the risk of stroke and long-term bleeding in patients with atrial fibrillation.”

Topeka is one of only five hospitals in Kansas who are currently offering the Watchman to its patients.

Sandy Snovell is one of the first patients to have had the procedure performed at Stormont Vail Hospital. Snovell had lived with atrial fibrillation for eight years with a history of blood clots.

“The biggest reasons for me to have the procedure done were that it would lower my risk of stroke and blood clots, and that I wouldn’t have to go through the monthly blood draws,” said Snovell. “I was only in the hospital for one night, and was feeling great by the next day.”

Snovell no longer has to take her blood thinner medication and for her, this was great news.

“I was taking eight medications every day,” said Snovell. “If I can stop taking a few of these, that will make me a happy woman.”

The Watchman is a permanent implant, the size of a quarter, made of light and compact materials commonly used in other medical implants. Open-heart surgery is not required. The procedure is performed in a lab under general anesthesia in less than an hour. Patients come back after 45 days for a follow-up appointment to evaluate the device’s efficacy.

The Watchman is ideal for patients whose atrial fibrillation is not caused by heart valve problems and who have experienced major bleeding while taking blood thinners or those who have a lifestyle, job or health condition that puts them at risk for major bleeding.

About Stormont Vail Health:
Stormont Vail Health is a nonprofit integrated health system that has been serving the health care needs of Kansas for more than 130 years. It is comprised of Stormont Vail Hospital, a 586-bed acute care hospital, and Cotton O’Neil Clinic, a multi-specialty physician group with more than 400 providers, which includes over 250 physicians. Nearly 5,000 employees provide care and support services for patients in the hospital and 35 other locations, including the Cotton O’Neil Heart Center, Cancer Center, Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, Digestive Health Center, Pediatrics clinics and 10 regional primary care clinics. Stormont Vail Health is committed to its mission of improving the health of the community by being a national leader in providing compassionate, high-quality and efficient integrated care through collaboration that results in a healthier community.