St. Francies adds procedure to prevent stroke in AFib patients

A team at the St. Francis Campus performs the new Watchman Procedure on Sept. 18, 2023.
A team at the St. Francis Campus performs the new Watchman Procedure on Sept. 18, 2023.(University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus)
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 12:44 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A second Topeka hospital now has a procedure aimed at preventing stroke in people who have been diagnosed with AFib.

The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus announced on Monday, Sept. 18, that it has introduced the Watchman Procedure to its list of cardiovascular treatments.

Health officials noted that AFib is a common heart rhythm disorder that affects millions around the globe. One of the major concerns for these patients is the risk of stroke - which can have devastating consequences. The new procedure offers a transformative solution with significant reductions in the risk of stroke associated with AFib.

KU Health’s St. Francis Campus noted that the Watchman Procedure is a minimally invasive, catheter-based technique that seals off the left atrial appendage - a small sac in the heart where blood clots often form in those with AFib. With this area blocked, the procedure eliminates the risk of clots breaking loose and traveling to the brain.

The St. Francis Campus indicated that Dr. Ahmed Souka will lead the implementation of the procedure. He is excited about the potential impact on patients’ lives.

“For decades most people with atrial fibrillation have been treated with long-term blood thinner therapy,” said Dr. Souka. “While blood thinners can reduce the risk for stroke, they can also create complications, such as internal bleeding, the Watchman™ Procedure will allow us to treat a broader range of patients and mitigate the risk of stroke in patients who cannot be on long term blood thinners.”

Officials said key advantages of the procedure include:

  • Stroke risk reduction
  • Minimally invasive - the procedure is performed through a small incision in the groin, reducing risks of complications and promoting faster recovery
  • Long-term solutions - once implanted, the Watchman device becomes a permanent part of the heart’s anatomy to provide continuous stroke protection

The St. Francis Campus said it is committed to offering the most advanced treatments to improve patient outcomes and enhance quality of life. Those who may seek a long-lasting solution to reduce stroke risk with AFib should contact the University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus.

Topeka’s Stormont Vail Hospital began doing Watchman procedures in 2017.

For more information about the procedure or to schedule a consultation, click HERE.