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WATCHMAN™ procedure now available at CHI Memorial

Kelly Richardson, M.D., cardiologist at The Chattanooga Heart Institute

Kelly Richardson, M.D., cardiologist at The Chattanooga Heart Institute

CHI Memorial and The Chattanooga Heart Institute are pleased to offer a new procedure to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib).  The WATCHMAN™ device is an alternative to the lifelong use of anticoagulants for people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvular AFib). 

An estimated five million Americans are affected by AFib – an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart.3 People with AFib have a five times greater risk of stroke4 than those with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking anticoagulants. 

“The WATCHMAN device is an alternative for patients with non-valvular AFib at risk for a stroke, who are not able to be on blood thinners long-term,” says Kelly Richardson, M.D., cardiologist at The Chattanooga Heart Institute. “I’m proud this revolutionary procedure is now available at CHI Memorial because it offers people in the Chattanooga community potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment.” 

The WATCHMAN device has been implanted in more than 50,000 patients worldwide and is a one-time procedure.  It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day. 

“People with atrial fibrillation are at significant risk of stroke, which can have a serious emotional and psychological effect on them,” said Mellanie True Hills, founder and chief executive officer,, a patient advocacy organization for those living with Afib. “Thus it is important for them to be aware of and understand recent medical advances and treatments that can help with stroke prevention.” 

About Atrial Fibrillation 
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting more than five million Americans.3 Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling.1,2 The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication. Despite its proven efficacy, long-term warfarin medication is not well-tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications. Nearly half of AF patients eligible for warfarin are currently untreated due to tolerance and adherence issues.5 

For more information on the WATCHMAN device, please visit:  

  1. Hart RG, Halperin JL., Ann Intern Med. 1999; 131:688–695 
  2. McGrath ER, Neurology 2013; 81:825-832 
  3. Colilla et al., Am J Cardiol. 2013; 112:1142-1147 
  4. Holmes DR, Seminars in Neurology 2010; 30:528–536 
  5. Waldo, AL. JACC 2005; 46:1729-1736.