Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center First in Texas to Implant Newly FDA-Approved WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure

April 29, 2015

WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Offers Patients With Atrial Fibrillation
An Alternative to Long-Term Warfarin Treatment to Reduce the Risk of Stroke

AUSTIN, TEXAS — On March 30, 2015, the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David’s Medical Center became the first facility in Texas to implant the newly FDA-approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device in a patient with non-valvular Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib).

A Fib is a heart condition in which the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). A Fib is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans. Patients with A Fib are at a greater risk of stroke, as A Fib can cause blood to pool and form clots in the left atrial appendage (LAA). If a blood clot breaks loose, it can travel to the brain, causing a stroke.

The most common treatment to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with A Fib is the use of blood-thinning warfarin medication. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients, and it carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of A Fib patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.

The WATCHMAN Implant is a permanent implant designed to close the LAA to keep harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

“We are pleased to be the first in the state to implant this new device,” Rodney Horton, M.D., cardiac electrophysiologist at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center, said. “The WATCHMAN Implant allows us to provide some patients with a potentially life-changing treatment option which could eliminate the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy and, more importantly, reduce the risk of stroke.”

Approximately 20 percent of all strokes occur in patients with A Fib, and A Fib-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling.

The WATCHMAN was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 13, 2015, and it has been approved in Europe since 2005. (TCAI was involved in clinical trials to study its effectiveness in the United States for nearly a decade.)

For more information about the WATCHMAN Implant, visitWatchmanImplant.com.

Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute
Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David’s Medical Center is one of the world’s preeminent centers dedicated to the latest treatment advances for correcting abnormal heart rhythms such as Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib). The center is led by Executive Medical Director Andrea Natale, M.D., a world-renowned expert in the field. Natale is at the forefront of advancing treatment for A Fib, leading numerous clinical trials and participating in the development of new technologies and procedures. TCAI is part of St. David’s HealthCare, one of the largest health systems in Texas, which was recognized with a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership—in 2014. For more information, please visitTCAInstitute.com.

St. David’s Medical Center
St. David’s Medical Center is part of St. David’s HealthCare, one of the largest health systems in Texas, which was recognized in 2014 with a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership—and as one of the top 15 health systems in the U.S. by Truven Health Analytics in January 2012. Founded in 1924, St. David’s Medical Center is a full-service medical center offering comprehensive medical care at three locations—St. David’s Medical Center, located at 919 East 32nd Street in Austin; Heart Hospital of Austin, located at 3801 North Lamar Blvd.; and St. David’s Georgetown Hospital, located in Georgetown at 2000 Scenic Drive. The three campuses offer a full range of medical specialties, as well as many other innovative healthcare services.

St. David’s Medical Center in central Austin includes a 350-bed acute care hospital and a 64-bed rehabilitation hospital providing comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care. St. David’s Medical Center is also home to NeuroTexas Institute and the internationally renowned Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute. The hospital provides a complete range of women’s services, including its acclaimed maternity unit, maternal-fetal medicine, a high-risk maternal and neonatal transport team, the region’s largest and most sophisticated Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and The Breast Center; a fertility center; complex surgical services; a comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Center; and a 24-hour emergency department.

St. David’s Medical Center was named among the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by Truven Health Analytics for six consecutive years, from 2010 to 2015. Truven Health Analytics also named St. David’s Medical Center to the list of 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals in 2013 and 2015. The hospital earned a national distinction for patient safety from The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits, for three consecutive years from 2012 to 2014. For more information, please visit StDavids.com.

News