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A Safer Way to Prevent Strokes

  • Author: Jim & Madeline Chiprean
  • Date Submitted: Aug 13, 2021
  • Category: Cardiology

“ From start to finish, they took extremely good care of me, I couldn’t ask for any better care than what I got.”

The Watchman procedure allowed Jim Chiprean to avoid a serious side effect of his medicine. Jim Chiprean went on blood thinners in 2019 after he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, or AFib. As a result, he needed to be placed on blood thinners to prevent blood clots and strokes, which occur more frequently among people with AFib. But Jim started having severe nose bleeds, even once in the middle of the night.

“He couldn’t take the blood thinners,” says Madelyn, Jim’s wife. Jim’s doctors at Butler Health System (BHS) recommended the Watchman procedure, which helps prevent strokes without the need for blood thinners.

A Safer Alternative Treatment

AFib makes it more likely for blood clots to form in the heart. If a clot travels to the brain, it can cause a stroke. Blood thinners are very effective at preventing these clots and strokes, says Brian Carey, MD, an interventional cardiologist at BHS. Most people take the medicines without any problems.
“But a significant percentage of patients have tried them and have had trouble with them, which was the case with Mr. Chiprean,” Dr. Carey says.
The most common side effect is bleeding, which can also occur in the GI tract. Stopping the blood thinners wasn’t a good option because it would have left Jim vulnerable to a potentially debilitating stroke.

“So he was an ideal candidate for the Watchman,” Dr. Carey says.
The Watchman is a permanent implant—about the size of a quarter— that seals off the part of the heart, the left atrial appendage (LAA), where blood clots normally form. The device traps any clots in the heart before they can escape and travel to the brain.
To implant the Watchman in Jim, Dr. Carey and a team at BHS inserted a thin tube (like an IV) through a small groin puncture and guided the Watch-man into Jim’s heart. A quick return to the life he loves Jim went home the day after his Watch-man procedure and was able to stop taking his blood thinners after about 45 days.

The retired business owner of Miller Shoes is 87 years old and looking forward to spending more time with Madelyn, playing the saxophone, and supporting Jim Jr. to carry on the family legacy at the store on Main Street. “From start to finish, they took extremely good care of me,” Jim says. “I couldn’t ask for any better care than what I got.”