How the Watchman Device Prevents Stroke in Heart Patients

A watchman device is a small implant placed in the left atrial appendage of the heart, designed to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, your healthcare provider may recommend a watchman device as a treatment option. However, how exactly does a watchman heart device work, and have you considered all of the benefits and risks?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about using watchman devices and how they can be an excellent option for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation.

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder where the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat rapidly and irregularly, leading to blood clots. These blood clots can then travel to the brain, causing a stroke. Atrial fibrillation affects millions of people worldwide, and the risk of stroke increases with age, uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart valve disease, and diabetes.

What is a watchman device, and how does it work?

A watchman device is a small, umbrella-shaped implant made of nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy. The device is threaded through a catheter, inserted via a puncture in the leg, and guided to the heart’s left atrial appendage. Once in place, the watchman device closes off the opening to the left atrial appendage, preventing blood clots from forming and reducing the risk of stroke. Over time, the heart tissue grows around the device, making it a permanent barrier to blood clots.

What are the risks and benefits of using a watchman device?

Like any medical procedure or device, there are potential risks and benefits. The benefits include reducing the risk of stroke and the need for long-term anticoagulation therapy (blood thinners). Patients are typically hospitalized overnight for the procedure and can resume normal activities within a few days. The risks include the potential for bleeding and other complications associated with the catheterization procedure, such as heart attack, punctured heart tissue, and stroke. However, the risks are minimal, and the procedure has a high success rate.

What to expect during and after the procedure?

Before the procedure, you will undergo blood tests, electrocardiography (ECG), chest x-ray, and other tests to determine your eligibility. During the procedure, you will be under mild to moderate sedation. Your healthcare provider will make a puncture in your leg, insert a catheter, and guide it to your heart using x-rays and ultrasound. Once in place, the watchman device is deployed and anchored in the left atrial appendage. You will remain hospitalized overnight for observation and then can typically go home the next day. You will need to follow up with your healthcare provider regularly to ensure proper healing and device function.

Who is a good candidate for a watchman device?

A watchman device may be an excellent option for patients with atrial fibrillation who are at high risk of stroke. Your healthcare provider will assess your risk level and determine if a watchman device is right for you. Other factors that may make you a good candidate include a history of bleeding, difficulty managing blood thinners, and lifestyle factors such as frequent travel, which make taking blood thinners challenging.


A watchman device is a safe and effective option for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. This comprehensive guide has covered everything you need to know about how a watchman device works, the potential benefits and risks, what to expect during and after the procedure, and who makes an ideal candidate. If you have atrial fibrillation and are looking for a way to reduce your stroke risk while avoiding long-term anticoagulation therapy, a watchman device may be the right choice for you. Always discuss your options with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your individual health needs.

Back To Top