Mayo Clinic Health System highlighting heart procedure during National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month.

Mayo Clinic Health System is highlighting a relatively new procedure to reduce the risk of stroke in patients who have atrial fibrillation.

During atrial fibrillation, the heart is beating irregularly and there’s an increased risk of blood clots forming inside the heart.

If a clot breaks loose, there’s a risk of stroke.

The Watchman device is inserted into the heart and blocks off an area where those clots can form.

“It’s designed to plug off one of the structures called the left atrial appendage,” says Dr. Xioke Liu, a heart rhythm specialist with Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse. “The left atrial appendage is like a small sack attached to the left atrium and that’s where atrial fibrillation usually comes from, and that’s where the blood clots usually come from.”

The device can be inserted during a same-day procedure. It is not considered a high-risk surgery.