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TAVR/LAAO (Watchman) Heart Procedures

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) and Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Implant (LAAO, or also known as the Watchman device)

New heart procedures to potentially save lives and improve quality of life.

As Antelope Valley Medical Center (AVMC) advances the health care options for our local communities, AVMC now has the technology available to lower the risk of stroke without performing open heart surgery. AVMC recently added two new heart procedures called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) and Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Implant (LAAO, or also known as the Watchman device) to the hospital’s Cardiology services. Antelope Valley Medical Center is the only hospital in the AV area to provide these life-changing procedures.

TAVR for Aortic Stenosis

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, is a minimally invasive procedure to replace diseased aortic valves without performing open heart surgery. The aortic valve is a vital heart structure that tends to degenerate and malfunction as patients age. The traditional way to replace the aortic valve is through performing open heart surgery, a major procedure that requires opening of the chest and stopping the heart, as well as, the removal of the native disease. Recovery is typically long and painful. TAVR, instead, delivers a new tissue aortic valve, mounted inside a catheter, through a small puncture in the right femoral artery, without the need to open the chest or stopping the heart. The procedure has been around for nearly 10 years, and is continuously refined. Multiple clinical trials have proven the safety and efficacy of minimally invasive aortic valve replacement (TAVR) compared to open heart surgery and valve replacement. TAVR is now considered the standard of care, as it has proven equivalence and/or superior to surgical valve replacement. Patients who undergo TAVR are typically discharged after an overnight stay in the hospital. This procedure is available for people with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis at low, intermediate or high risk for standard valve replacement surgery.

LAAO (Watchman Device) for Atrial Fibrillation

The Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Implant (LAAO) procedure is an effective way to reduce stroke risk in patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac condition that the effects tens of millions of people in the United States. Certain patients with atrial fibrillation are prone to strokes and neurological damage. One way to minimize the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation is to use anti-coagulants such as Warfarin, Xarelto, Eliquis and Pradaxa. Although these medications are effective at reducing the incidence of strokes, they have their own serious side effects. They all can cause serious and at times life-threatening bleeding.

Many patients cannot take anti-coagulants, and are therefore left with unchecked stroke risk. The blood clots that lead to strokes in atrial fibrillation patients develop in a particular portion of the heart, known as the left atrial appendage. This is a recess in the left upper heart chamber that, if closed, dramatically lowers the risk of strokes. Fortunately, AVMC now has the technology to do that without performing open heart surgery. The device used is known as left atrial appendage occlude (LAAO) or the Watchman device. The device is inserted through a small incision in the right groin and is a permanent implant. Patients who receive this device are only hospitalized overnight. Once in place, there is no need for long-term anti-coagulation with the associated lifelong risk of bleeding.

Watch this video to learn more about the Watchman device

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