Tampa Bay/Hudson, FL— Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, an HCA West Florida AFib & Heart Rhythm Center, is the first hospital in Pasco County to offer an implant that can help reduce the risk of stroke in some patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point's Heart Institute team recently performed the first implant of Boston Scientific's Watchman Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant(tm), a small, flexible wire and mesh system that when inserted into the heart via a catheter placed in the groin, closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage. This is where the blood can pool and clots most often form. These clots are believed to cause the majority of strokes in people with nonvalvular AFib.

More than 6 million Americans have AFib, a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart beat too quickly and with irregular rhythm. People with AFib are five times more likely to experience a stroke. To reduce this risk, AFib patients are often prescribed blood-thinning medications, which can carry risks such as bleeding in the brain. People on these drugs also need to undergo blood tests as often as once a week.

The Watchman offers a nondrug alternative. Over time, patients may be able to stop such blood-thinners as soon as 45-days from the date of the implant. In one study, more than 99 percent of patients stopped taking their blood-thinning medication within a year.

"The Watchman procedure is absolutely amazing. I look forward to getting off my blood thinner medication," said RMCBP's first Watchman(R) implant patient, Sharon Vicaro.

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point's Heart Institute offers a comprehensive cardiac program for patients with a variety of heart conditions, with treatments ranging from the latest innovations in cardiac surgery to a very successful heart failure monitoring program. RMCBP has been at the forefront in treating Atrial Fibrillation and was one of the first hospitals in Tampa Bay to be designated as a Certified Atrial Fibrillation facility by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC) for its cardiac electrophysiology treatments. It was also one of the first hospitals in the area to begin using cryoablation to treat AFib.

About Boston Scientific

Boston Scientific is a worldwide developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices that are used in a broad range of interventional medical specialties. For more information, please visit: www.bostonscientific.com.

About the Watchman Device

The WATCHMAN Implant has been approved in Europe since 2005 and is FDA-approved in the United States. It has been implanted in more than 10,000 patients and is approved in more than 70 countries around the world. For more information on the WATCHMAN Implant, please visit: watchmanimplant.com.

The WATCHMAN Device is a permanent implant designed to close the left atrial appendage in the heart in an effort to reduce the risk of stroke. With all medical procedures there are risks associated with the implant procedure and the use of the device. The risks include but are not limited to accidental heart puncture, air embolism, allergic reaction, anemia, anesthesia risks, arrhythmias, AV (Arteriovenous) fistula, bleeding or throat pain from the TEE (Trans Esophageal Echo) probe, blood clot or air bubbles in the lungs or other organs, bruising at the catheter insertion site, clot formation on the WATCHMAN(tm) Closure Device, cranial bleed, excessive bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, groin puncture bleed, hypotension, infection/pneumonia, pneumothorax, pulmonary edema, pulmonary vein obstruction, renal failure, stroke, thrombosis and transient ischemic attack. In rare cases death can occur. Be sure to talk with your doctor so that you thoroughly understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the implantation of the WATCHMAN Device.