THE cardiovascular team of the Heart Institute at Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, led by Dr. Timothy C. Dy, successfully implanted the country’s first Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) device in a patient with chronic atrial fibrillation.
The other team members were Dr. Melissa Co-Sia, Dr. Aristides Panlilio and Dr. Maria Luisa Jacildo. The procedure was performed at Cardiovascular Catheterization and Intervention Unit last July 23.
The LAAC implantation was performed under general anesthesia with guidance by 3-D echocardiography and fluoroscopy. Given the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, the patient recovered quickly and was sent home less than 48 hours after the procedure.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) refers to the irregular beating of the upper chambers of the heart. It is a condition that is commonly encountered and is more likely to be found in the elderly population.
AF has been proven to increase the chance of a blood clot forming inside the appendage, an ear-like out pouching of left upper chamber of the heart. When such clots exist, pieces can break off and travel with the blood flow ending up in different organs. If it ends up in the blood vessels of the brain, it leads to a stroke. The incidence of stroke is five or more times more likely if the patient suffers from AF.
Patients with AF usually need to take anti-clotting or anticoagulant drugs to prevent blood clots from forming in the LAA and thereby prevent strokes. However, in the elderly population where falls and injuries are common, anticoagulants can also cause excessive bleeding from trauma. Patients who need surgery or have other bleeding problems such as stomach ulcers also cannot take anticoagulants. The LAAC device provides these patients with an alternative mode of treatment.
The Watchman device, which is marketed by Boston Scientific Inc., can be placed in the left atrial appendage (LAA) non-surgically via a catheter delivery system inserted through a vein in the groin. Data has consistently shown that a successfully implanted WatchmanTM device is actually superior to taking blood thinners in preventing strokes.
The CGHMC has always been at the forefront of Cardiovascular Medicine in the country for the last 2 decades. The Heart Institute at CGHMC was established in 1996 and has been a recognized leader in delivering state-of-the-art cardiovascular care for over 20 years.
It boasts as one with the highest numbers of cardiac procedures in the country, and enjoys one of the highest success rates in therapeutic procedures such as angioplasty and stenting and coronary artery bypass surgery.
In addition, the Heart Institute remains one of the few centers in the country that has the ability to perform endovascular aneurysm repairs, thoracic endovascular aortic repair, transcatheter aortic valve replacements and non-surgical MitraClip procedure for severe mitral regurgitation.
As of this writing, the CGHMC is the only institution in the Philippines to have implanted a Watchman device.