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Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Cottage Heart & Vascular Center Delivers New Home Heart Advantages to Patients

(Cottage Health illustration)

Cottage Heart & Vascular Center has introduced two new advanced procedures for patients, Watchman Implant and Bioabsorbable Stent Placement.

Watchman: Alternative to Blood Thinners

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is among the first hospitals in California to offer the Watchman implant for patients with atrial fibrillation who need an alternative to long-term blood thinning medication because of bleeding risks. Newly approved, Watchman is specifically for patients who have atrial fibrillation not related to heart valve disease.

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart condition in which the upper chambers of the heart beat too fast and with irregular rhythm. AFib, which affects millions of people, can cause blood to stick together and clot in the heart’s left atrial appendage. If those clots break loose, they can cause a stroke. An estimated 20 percent of all strokes occur in patients with AFib.

The minimally invasive Watchman procedure seals off the left atrial appendage, which is a thumb-sized sack, so it no longer can cause problems. Within 45 days of a successful Watchman placement, most patients can stop taking the warfarin blood thinner.

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is the only location on the Central Coast and one of only a select number of locations nationwide to offer the Watchman implant. Cardiologists Brett Gidney and Joseph Aragon perform the procedure at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

“Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital has a long history of offering structural heart disease treatment, and that has paved the way for us to offer this new and groundbreaking Watchman procedure for patients,” said Aragon, director of the structural heart program and cardiac catheterization lab.

Cardiologists insert the compressed Watchman implant through a vein in the patient’s legs and, with guidance from real-time imaging, thread it through blood vessels to the heart, where the implant is expanded to the size of a quarter to close off the left atrial appendage. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour to put in the implant.

Patients spend one night in the hospital as a precaution and typically can return to their normal activities the next day.

The Watchman implant does not cure AFib, and it should not be placed in a patient whose AFib is related to heart valve disease.

“The Watchman Implant is for someone with atrial fibrillation who has decided with their doctor, using sound medical reasoning, that blood thinners are not a good long-term option,” Gidney said.

FDA Approval

Watchman received Food and Drug Administration approval in the United States in 2015 and has been approved in Europe since 2005. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries.

Dissolving Heart Stent

The interventional cardiology team at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital recently became the only California hospital north of Los Angeles, and the second in California, to offer patients with coronary artery disease an advanced, first-of-its-kind treatment option.

Dr. Michael Shenoda, interventional cardiologist for Sansum Clinic and the Cottage Heart & Vascular Center at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, implanted a patient in July with the world’s first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent.

The bioresorbable vascular scaffold is a major advance in the treatment of coronary artery disease, which affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death worldwide, despite decades of therapeutic advances.

While stents are traditionally made of metal, the bioresorbable stent is made of a naturally dissolving material, similar to dissolving sutures. The device disappears in about three years, after it has achieved its goal of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the treated artery segment. By contrast, metal stents are permanent implants.

“After a blockage in a blood vessel is cleared, it only needs support for a matter of months until the vessel heals and can stay open on its own,” Shenoda explained. “After that, the metallic stent serves no additional purpose, and can, in fact, be a hindrance.

Click here for more information about heart conditions and treatments, and to find out your heart’s age.

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