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Minimally invasive Watchman procedure gives Beacon patient peace of mind and protects her health

Pat Timmons

Pat Timmons and her husband, Mel, will be married 54 years this June. In the early years they were together, the couple travelled by motorcycle all over the United States and Canada.

After living out west for 15 years or so, they returned to Michiana.

Today, they enjoy gardening, yard work, cooking, holiday decorating and traveling by car to vacation in Maine and North Carolina.

As you can tell, this couple shares a passion for life.

But Pat has had to take blood thinning medications for the past several years for atrial fibrillation. AFib, as it is more commonly known, can lead to the formation of blood clots that can, in turn, cause stroke.

Blood thinning medications are effective in reducing the risk of stroke, but they can be costly and may have troublesome side effects including bruising easily.

Dr. Vijay Mehta, Beacon Medical Group Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists Riverpointe

Pat was intrigued when her cardiologist Dr. Vijay Mehta, Beacon Medical Group Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists Riverpointe, told her about a new procedure using the Watchman device. If she had the procedure, Dr. Mehta told Pat how she would no longer have to take blood thinners.

Those medications would be part of her past.

After discussing the procedure with her husband, she decided: “I’m going to have it. One less pill in my life would be wonderful.”

After some pre-operative testing, Pat had the Watchman procedure last October at Elkhart Hospital. She said everything went smoothly.

During the procedure, which was performed by interventional cardiologist Dr. Adil Wani, Beacon Medical Group Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists Riverpointe, the Watchman device was passed through a thin tube that runs from the groin into the heart. One implanted, the device expanded and closed off a part of the heart where blood clots often form.

The entire procedure took roughly an hour.

Dr. Adil Wani, Beacon Medical Group Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists Riverpointe

Dr. Wani says that 95 percent of blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation form in a pouch called left atrial appendage. “The whole idea of the Watchman device is to seal that pouch to prevent a stroke from occurring,” he said. “This minimally invasive procedure is available right here at Beacon to help people with atrial fibrillation who cannot tolerate blood thinners.”

Pat said she was in and out the same day.

“To me it’s a simple procedure for the patient,” she said. “I would recommend it.”

She didn’t even need her daughters to come to town because she and her husband could easily manage.

“Frankly, we could have gone out to dinner if we wanted to. I felt that good,” Pat said.

She found the whole experience to be a positive one, from the physicians’ expertise to the support of the entire Beacon care team. “Everything seems to be so well-run. There’s someone you can reach who takes care of what you need immediately. I’d refer this to anybody.”

Our Beacon care team

Whether you are looking to understand your health risks, are living with an ongoing heart or blood vessel problem or have experienced a life-changing emergency, your Beacon care team is here to help – with the information, resources and care you need.

Learn more about our care team and the services we provide: https://www.beaconhealthsystem.org/heart-vascular-stroke-care/