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CNY Cardiology doctors providing watchman-device procedure at MVHS

By Eric Reinhardt

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Dr. Michael Sassower (left) and Dr. Michael Amponsah of Central New York Cardiology are handling procedures at the Mohawk Valley Health System involving the watchman device, a “one time procedure that reduces the risk of strokes that originate in the left atrial appendage (LAA).” (Photo provided by Mohawk Valley Health System)

UTICA, N.Y. — Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) is now offering the watchman-device procedure to patients.

Working in partnership with Central New York (CNY) Cardiology, MVHS describes the watchman as an “innovative, one time procedure that reduces the risk of strokes that originate in the left atrial appendage (LAA),” per a news release.

It reduces the risk of stroke and removes the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of blood thinners like Warfarin (also known as Coumadin), MVHS said.

Drs. Michael Sassower and Michael Amponsah of CNY Cardiology are handling the procedure. MVHS started offering it Feb. 25.

CNY Cardiology has offices in Utica, Rome, Oneida, Herkimer, and Lowville, per its website.

About the procedure

The watchman is a device inserted into the LAA of the heart via a small incision in the groin. The implant procedure does not require open-heart surgery and is typically performed under general anesthesia or conscious sedation.

“The watchman device is an important step forward in stroke management for patients with atrial fibrillation,” Sassower said in the MVHS release. “A significant number of patients who should be on oral anticoagulation cannot take it for numerous reasons. Watchman is a breakthrough treatment providing those patients who are suitable for blood thinners with an alternative to long-term, blood-thinner therapy, while still reducing the risk of stroke.”

The procedure usually lasts up to an hour with a “fast and generally painless recovery, allowing the patient to be discharged the next day,” MVHS said.

By closing off the LAA, the procedure can reduce the risk of stroke in patients with an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation) who are not suitable for blood thinners. Over time, heart tissue grows over the watchman device and the LAA is permanently sealed.

“Adding the watchman procedure to the list of services offered to our patients is just another step in the development of a comprehensive structural heart program here at MVHS,” Amponsah contended.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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