Heart device may eliminate need for heparin, warfarin

A small device implanted in the heart to stop blood clots from triggering strokes could serve as an alternative to blood thinners such as heparin and warfarin, according to a new study conducted by the device’s maker, Atritech, Inc. The device, called the Watchman, is designed specifically for patients with atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat.

Blood tends to pool in the atrial chamber of individuals with atrial fibrillation, which can lead to clotting and an increased risk for strokes. Patients with atrial fibrillation are generally treated with blood thinners to help prevent blood clots from forming.

However, blood thinners like heparin can cause serious bleeding episodes and allergic reactions. Alternatives to long-term use of blood thinners has many cardiologists taking notice.

“The findings from this clinical trial are very impressive,” said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Treatment with this novel device will be very attractive and provide patients with atrial fibrillation effective, long-term protection from stroke and systemic embolization without the bleeding risks associated with (blood thinners).”

The PROTECT-AF Trial, which involved 707 patients with a type of atrial fibrillation, showed that patients who had the device had a 32 percent lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular death compared with those on blood thinners. The study also found fewer complications with the implanted device compared to the use of blood thinners.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel will meet in April to consider the sale of the device in the United States.

Eflux Media News