Sparrow only in region to offer “Watchman” device

Published: Feb. 3, 2016

In recognition of February as Heart Month, Sparrow is now the only health system in mid-Michigan offering a new device that reduces the risk of stroke caused by the abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

The Watchman is an FDA-approved device designed for those with atrial fibrillation who are unable to take blood thinners—the most commonly used treatment for the condition—due to an increased risk of bleeding complications. Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart arrhythmia in the United States, affecting more than 5 million Americans. It causes an estimated 20 percent of all strokes.

Russell Overton, 56, of Lansing, is proud to be the first Patient in Lansing to receive the Watchman.

Overton, an active outdoorsman, was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation 13 years ago and has since battled the side effects and complications of bleeding from his anti-coagulants. He became so fed up that he went back to taking aspirin and worrying about having a stroke.

Then he heard about the Watchman through his physicians at the Sparrow Heart and Vascular Center.

“The entire experience went well and I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to no longer be looking over my shoulder waiting for a stroke,” Overton said. “Having gone through that for so long, this is like the end of a war for me.”

He’s grateful to his Physician, Interventional Cardiologist Gaurav Dhar, M.D.

“This procedure is a very viable alternative for patients with atrial fibrillation who are at high risk for stroke and also bleeding,” Dr. Dhar said. “It provides the same benefit as Coumadin without taking an anti-coagulant.”

Dr. Dhar performs this procedure at Sparrow with interventional cardiologist, Nam Cho, D.O., and cardiac electrophysiologist, David Rhine, M.D. Several other Patients have since successfully received the Watchman.

Implanting the Watchman is a minimally-invasive procedure where a parachute-shaped implant is inserted into the heart through a catheter placed into a vein in the Patient’s leg. Most Patients are able to go off from their anti-coagulant within 45 days of receiving the device.

Sparrow’s Heart and Vascular Center delivers the most comprehensive heart care in mid-Michigan. It has the newest technology in the region. Our board-certified doctors are leaders in their fields, providing the highest-quality care close to home.

For more information about atrial fibrillation or the Watchman device, Patients or providers can contact Erin Wilson, Structural Heart Physician Assistant at Sparrow Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute, at 517.483.7576.

Choose Wisely. Choose Sparrow.