News | November 18, 2011

First Patients Implanted with Watchman LAA Occluder in Latin America

November 18, 2011 – Boston Scientific’s Watchman left atrial appendage (LAA) closure device has been implanted in the first patients in Latin America. The device is designed for use in patients in atrial fibrillation who are at risk for stroke and are eligible for long-term oral anticoagulation therapy such as warfarin. Watchman is intended to prevent embolization of thrombi that may form in the LAA, thereby preventing the occurrence of ischemic stroke and systemic thromboembolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. The first patient implants were performed by Bernardo Caicedo, M.D., interventional cardiologist, at Angiografia de Occidente in Cali, Colombia.

Atrial fibrillation, which affects approximately 15 million patients worldwide, is a disorder that disrupts the heart's ability to beat regularly and pump blood efficiently. Patients in atrial fibrillation are at greater risk for stroke due to the formation and migration of clots in the left atrial appendage. Anticoagulants such as warfarin have traditionally been the only therapy for reducing stroke risk in these patients. Watchman is intended to be an alternative to long-term anticoagulation. It is designed to close the LAA, thereby preventing clots within the appendage from being dislodged into the bloodstream.

"I am excited to be part of the first patient implants of the Watchman device in Latin America," said Caicedo. "The percutaneously delivered device promises to offer a safe and effective alternative for atrial fibrillation patients who cannot take long-term oral anticoagulants and have limited options to reduce their stroke risk. It incorporates a pre-loaded device that is both repositionable and retrievable to enhance its ease of use."

Watchman is the most clinically studied product of its kind currently available. In the multi-center, randomized PROTECT AF clinical trial, it proved to be non-inferior to warfarin and demonstrated a 38 percent relative risk reduction for a combined measure of stroke, cardiovascular death and systemic embolism compared to long-term warfarin therapy in 800 patients. The study also showed a 29 percent relative risk reduction in all stroke and a 90 percent relative risk reduction in hemorrhagic stroke compared to warfarin. Nearly 1,800 patients have now been recruited in Wacthman clinical trials with more than 2,700 patient-years of follow-up. Watchman is CE Marked and was commercialized outside the United States in 2009.

Boston Scientific is currently enrolling United States patients in the PREVAIL study, a confirmatory study designed to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Enrollment is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012. In the United States, Watchman is an investigational device, limited by applicable law to investigational use and not available for sale. The device was developed by Atritech, which Boston Scientific acquired in March 2011.

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