At right: D. Lynn Morris, MD, Chairman of Cardiology and Director of the Einstein Institute for Heart and Vascular Health, and Sumeet Mainigi, MD, Director of Electrophysiology, with the Watchman™ Implant (Photos by Wes Hilton)
It resembles a tiny wire mesh jellyfish, roughly the size of a quarter. Looking at it, you would never guess what it really is. But if you are one of the 2.7 to 6.1 million Americans who suffer from atrial fibrillation, this diminutive device has the potential to change your life. And Einstein has it.
Atrial fibrillation—also known as “Afib”—is the most common heart arrhythmia. Afib causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat erratically. Because of this irregular heartbeat, blood clots are more likely to form in the heart and move through the bloodstream, increasing the risk of stroke.
For years, the treatment of choice for Afib has been blood-thinning drugs like warfarin (Coumadin). These drugs, also known as anticoagulants, are effective, but often difficult to regulate and patients are often scared to take them, says Sumeet Mainigi, MD, Director of Electrophysiology at Einstein Medical Center. “Patients need to take blood thinners for the rest of their lives to reduce the risk of stroke. The problem is, only about 60 percent of patients will end up taking and staying with blood thinners at the right level,” he says.