Cardiovascular technology new to Bay County reducing risk of stroke

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Atrial Fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular heart rhythm.

“Atrial Fibrillation is very common in our community, very prevalent,” Dr. Samir Patel, an Interventional Cardiologist for the Cardiovascular Institute of Northwest Florida, said. “One of the main concerns of Atrial Fibrillation is the stroke risk.”

Strokes being caused by clots in the blood.

“Atrial Fibrillation can create a blood clot because the blood cannot come through the heart effectively,” Dr. Nghia Hoang, an Electrophysiologist for the Cardiovascular Institute of Northwest Florida, said. “Then creates the blood clot.”

Blood clots can be treated with blood thinners but that’s not the answer for everyone.

“A lot of patients can’t tolerate blood thinners because of bleeding risks and other reasons,” said Dr. Patel.

For patients who can’t take blood thinners, Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Amir Haghighat said a new device to help treat A-Fib could be the answer.

“I have in my hand a small device that’s going to be seen as a potentially lifesaving device for our patients here in Bay County and beyond,” Dr. Haghighat said.

This device is the WATCHMAN Implant, it’s about the size of a quarter. Dr. Haghighat says it was approved by the FDA around five years ago.

“We access the vein in the leg here, very small incision and we pass a tube up into the heart and we cross over to the left side of the heart,” Dr. Patel said. “This device is crimped inside a tube. We direct the tube into that left atrial appendage. And once this tube is in, we deploy the device basically sealing that appendage. So it prevents blood from getting into the appendage and clots from forming.”

Since the beginning of October, doctors with the Cardiovascular Institute of Northwest Florida have done WATCHMAN Implants on four patients at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay.

“This is the first time this procedure is being offered in our community,” Robin Godwin, President of Ascension Sacred Heart Bay, said. “We are looking forward to what this will mean for cardiovascular care in our community, not just here in Bay County but in our surrounding counties as well.”

Doctors say it’s a simple procedure, only lasting about an hour. Patients typically go home the next morning.

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