Largo Medical Center
August 11, 2016

The AFib & Heart Rhythm Center at Largo Medical Center performed its first Watchman, atrial fibrillation (AFib) procedure August 11. The Watchman is an implantable device that can help reduce the risk of stroke in some patients with AFib. Two physicians perform the procedure at Largo Medical Center.

"The Watchman is a small, flexible device that when inserted into the heart via a catheter placed in the groin, closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage, a place where the blood most often can pool and clot," said Jesse Klein, DO, Interventional Cardiologist, Largo Medical Center. "The clots are believed to cause the majority of strokes in people with a specific type of AFib."

"This device offers a non-drug alternative meaning that over time, patients may be able to stop blood-thinning medications as soon as 45-days from the date of the implant," said Shalin Shah, MD, Electrophysiologist, Largo Medical Center. "It is indicated in patients who are at high risk of stroke from Afib, but have problems taking blood thinners long term and is a great step forward in our quest to help patients with Afib."

In one study, more than 99 percent of patients stopped taking their blood-thinners within a year.

"The family of employees and physicians at Largo Medical Center will take care of you and your family members, throughout our community and beyond, with the addition of this life-saving procedure at our hospital," said Tony Degina, CEO, Largo Medical Center. "It's what we do. It is our hospital's mission."

More than 6 million Americans have AFib, a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart beat too quickly and with irregular rhythm. People with AFib are five times more likely to experience a stroke. To reduce this risk, AFib patients are often prescribed blood-thinning medications, which can carry risks such as bleeding in the brain. People on these drugs also need to undergo blood tests as often as once a week.

To learn more about this procedure, please contact Tammy Robiconti, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Largo Medical Center at 727-348-1896.