BCH's Dr. Srini Iyengar spoke to Nicole Brady of Channel 7 about an innovative treatment called Watchman that helps reduce stroke risk for patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib).

"If you have AFib and certain risk factors like hypertension, diabetes or a prior stroke, you are more likely to have a stroke," said the Boulder Heart structural heart program director Dr. Iyengar, who is one of Colorado's most experienced Watchman physicians and leads the only team performing Watchman in Boulder County, at Foothills Hospital.

The Watchman device, Dr. Iyengar explained, is a one-time permanent implant that closes off the heart's left atrial appendage, where most stroke-causing blood clots form, through a minimally invasive procedure that's done with a catheter and takes about 30 minutes.

"The device works like a cork on a bottle, preventing blood flow to the area where clots tend to form," he said. The goal of the procedure is that afterwards, patients can gradually stop taking blood-thinning medications yet enjoy comparable reductions in stroke risk.

Use of blood-thinners like warfarin poses potential barriers for certain individuals, primarily an increased risk of major bleeding--especially for older adults at high risk of falls and for active people who are concerned about bleeding if they sustain an injury while pursuing a favorite activity. Additionally, long-term use of blood-thinners requires frequent blood tests, dietary restrictions and high prescription costs. Watchman could be the right alternative for some individuals, according to Dr. Iyengar.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 303-415-8898.