Dr. Lee, Dr. Warrier, and the care team pose with the Box that contained the 100th Watchman DeviceMark Y. Lee, M.D., F.A.C.C. and Nikhil P. Warrier, M.D., F.A.C.C. performed the 100th implant of the latest-generation WATCHMAN FLX™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device on a patient with atrial fibrillation at the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center.

MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center is one of the only hospitals in the region to offer the WATCHMAN FLX device, built upon the most studied and implanted Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device in the world, as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with Atrial Fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation).

An estimated seven million Americans are affected by Atrial Fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat that can feel like a quivering heart. People with Atrial Fibrillation have a five times greater risk of stroke than those with normal heart rhythms. The WATCHMAN FLX device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the Left Atrial Appendage from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the Left Atrial Appendage, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner. The latest-generation technology has a new design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.

“Patients that undergo this procedure are always impressed with the results,” says Mark Y Lee, M.D., FACC, cardiac electrophysiologist, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. “Most of the patients that are referred to us were interested in the procedure in order to get off blood thinners and have a better quality of life thanks to the WATCHMAN device.”

Dr. Lee and Dr. Warrier implanted the first WATCHMAN FLX device at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center in January 2020. Many of the patients who have come in since the first procedures have had the device promoted to them by their friends and family who have had similar conditions and now experience reduced risk of stroke and no longer need to take blood thinners.

The WATCHMAN technology has been implanted in more than 200,000 patients worldwide and is done in a one-time procedure. It’s a permanent device that doesn’t have to be replaced and can’t be seen outside the body. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and are able to leave the next day.

The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center is one of California's most comprehensive centers for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease. The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute provides advanced care for complex heart conditions including heart attacks, heart failure, arrhythmias and peripheral vascular disease. The team remains on the forefront of cardiovascular care through heart surgeons with innovative techniques, such as minimally invasive surgery for complex aortic and mitral valve cases through small incisions, as well as advanced treatments, like Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement procedures and the WATCHMAN™ device for atrial fibrillation. The program continues its history of advancing heart and vascular research through innovative clinical trials and a team of dedicated professionals.