Bon Secours St. Francis Health System performed its 100th Watchman procedure on August 6, 2019.

The implant allows doctors to close off a small chamber at the top of the heart, called the left atrial appendage, which prevents clots from forming and entering the blood stream. After it is implanted, tissue grows over the Watchman device providing protection against strokes.

The Watchman procedure is beneficial for patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heartbeat which can cause blood clots, and as a result, is the leading cause of stroke and congestive heart failure in the country.

“It can make patients feel tired, short of breath, sometimes have chest pain and overall a sense that’s something’s not right,” explained Bon Secours Cardiologist Dr. Matthew Sellers.

Like many others who suffer from AFib, Bon Secours’ 100th Watchman patient Bill Baker has been forced to take medication to help prevent clots.

“I’ve been on blood thinners for years and began to have some difficulties monitoring it properly, so I became concerned about my continued use of the drugs,” said the 79-year-old.

The Watchman implant removes the need for patients like Bill to take medication for the rest of their lives – something that makes all the difference.

“I felt like I was cut loose from this chain around my neck. I feel a lot better and complete again rather than being infirmed,” said Bill.

Being off the medication means a less restrictive diet, fewer lab tests, and a sense of relief that has led Bill to have a more positive mental state about his health overall.