US-based University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Centre has selected Boston Scientific’s Watchman device to treat patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF).

The device is an alternative to warfarin therapy that is generally used by doctors for AF, which may not be well-tolerated by some patients and has a risk of bleeding complications.

University of Michigan internal medicine assistant professor Dr Eric Good said: "The Watchman device offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option, which could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy."

"The Watchman device is said to close an area of the heart known as left atrial appendage (LAA), where harmful blood clots can form and enter the bloodstream resulting in a stroke."

The Watchman device is said to close an area of the heart known as left atrial appendage (LAA), where harmful blood clots can form and enter the bloodstream resulting in a stroke.

The device resembles a parachute, can be implanted during a one-time minimally invasive procedure in an electrophysiology lab and is intended for patients for whom warfarin therapy is risky.

According to University of Michigan, the device provided better protection from disabling stroke, haemorrhagic stroke and cardiovascular death compared to warfarin, during clinical trials that involved 2,400 patients and 6,000 patient years of follow-up.

University of Michigan Arrhythmia programme director Dr Hakan Oral said: "This advanced technology provides physicians at the U-M with a breakthrough stroke risk reduction option for patients with this type of atrial fibrillation."