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Parachute-Like Device Prevents Blood Clots Without Open Heart Surgery

MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Local researchers find a new way to extend the lives of Utah heart patients.  It’s called the WATCHMAN.  It’s the first-of-its-kind device studied and now available to Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute patients.
An irregular heart beat can cause blood clots.  The common remedy is to use blood thinners in the form of prescription pills like coumadin or warfarin.
“Coumadin is awful. You bleed a lot. You bruise a lot,” said WATCHMAN patient Mary Ellen Kaull.
“That’s what it is, rat poison, coumadin,” said WATCHMAN patient Wilford Brimley.
“The coumadin was doing terrible things to my insides so they took me of of that right at that point,” said Marcia Swenson.
For those patients who can no longer take pills like wafarin, the WATCHMAN became their only option.
“We make a single whole in the top part of the leg in the blood vessel there into the vein. We place this catheter up through the heart and we then release this little parachute in the left ventral appendage,” said Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute Dr. Pete Weiss.
Once installed, doctors hope it will eliminate a potential blood clot.     
“Treat that pouch in the heart directly without using whole body blood thinners but also not require open heart surgery,” said Dr. Weiss.
Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute Dr. Pete Weiss says it’s a half hour procedure that causes little down time.  These three patients, out of thousands studied, would agree.
“I’m alive and well and healthy and I don’t take rat poison anymore,” said Brimley.
“I feel so much better. It’s nice not to have those terrible, terrible, a-fib attacks,” said Kaull.

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