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Catholic Medical Center First in the World to Conduct Heart Procedure
Published Thursday, March 16, 2017

Catholic Medical Center in Manchester. Photo: CMC 

Nearly two years after being the first commercial site in New England to implant the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) device, Catholic Medical Center (CMC) in Manchester performed the procedure on previously ineligible patients. 

CMC is the first hospital in the world to enroll patients in Boston Scientific’s ASAP TOO clinical trial, which is testing the efficacy of the WATCHMAN device in patients who cannot tolerate Warfarin or any other kind of blood thinner. The WATCHMAN was developed as an alternative for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AFib) who were taking long-term blood thinners to help reduce the risk of stroke.  Until now, however, patients still needed to follow a blood thinning regimen for a period of time following surgery.

“Patients with AFib have a higher risk of stroke but treatment has been limited for those who couldn’t take blood thinners,” says cardiologist Connor Haugh of CMC’s New England Heart & Vascular Institute, who implanted the first device in the trial. “This is a truly exciting option.” 

“I had major fear of stroke after being diagnosed with AFib,” says Edie Hinds, the first woman enrolled in the trial. Hinds discovered shortly after being prescribed blood thinners that she couldn’t take them. She was accepted into the trial in February and went home the day after surgery.

The minimally invasive WATCHMAN procedure is performed in CMC’s Electrophysiology Lab, often taking less than 90 minutes. Patients are in the hospital overnight and then have a follow-up visit in three months.  ASAP TOO trial patients will have additional in-office or telephone follow-up appointments every six months for up to five years.

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