Anemic & Slow Heart, Has Pacemaker; At 80-Year-old Gets a Watchman Device for Stroke Risk
by Revelacion Abracosa, 2011
[This story is about use of the Watchman device for a patient with increased risk of stroke, but who does not have atrial fibrillation.]
Even as a child my heart rate was slow, and I’ve always been anemic. Other than that, my overall health is good. I have no other health problems.
Anemic and Pulse Rate Only 32 BPM – Gets Pacemaker in 2003
Over the years doctors tried many tests to find out why I am anemic, but to no avail. At one point a specialist thought there was a problem with my liver. He admitted me to a hospital and scheduled a biopsy of my liver. But when they took my vitals, my heart rate was only 32. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t faint. But I drive a car and never felt dizzy.
They said a pulse of 32 is too low and recommended I get a pacemaker. My sister-in-law is a doctor in Manila (Revelacion was born in the Philippines). She also advised me to get a pacemaker. I had a single wire pacemaker installed in 2003 (a single wire pacemaker paces only one ventricle). I did feel better. The pacemaker keeps my pulse around 60.
In 2008 I needed to change the battery in my pacemaker. The doctor installed a two wire pacemaker (which paces both ventricles).
2010 Clinical Trial: Watchman Device as Alternative to Coumadin For Stroke Risk
I was taking aspirin at that time, but I was worried about having an accident. My blood is thinner than a normal person’s. I don’t like Coumadin. My brother had the same problem as I. He was given Coumadin and didn’t survive. Our systems don’t react well to Coumadin.
Dr. Shephal Doshi (Pacific Heart Institute, Los Angeles, CA) explained to me an alternative to having to take blood thinners―the Watchman device can be installed to close off the Left Atrial Appendage where most clots originate. I have a friend who had the Watchman device installed. Her experience was positive. That’s why I had the nerve to go ahead.
On December 15, 2010 I had the Watchman device installed in my heart. I was part of a research study which kept the expense of the procedure to a minimum.
I had to be on Coumadin for 45 days after the Watchman procedure, to make sure there was no clotting. But after the 45 days on Coumadin, I had to have a transfusion of two pints of blood. I don’t react well to blood thinners.
Life Good with the Watchman Device
It’s 2011 and I feel OK. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel anything, though it’s only been seven months since I had the Watchman device installed. I feel positive about it. I haven’t taken any blood thinners since the last six months. My endurance is good. When the doctors examined me, there was no indication of any problem, clotting, etc.
I hope the costs of having the Watchman device installed will go down. I never could have afforded it without being part of a clinical trial. People my age have to consider finances.
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Revelacion Abracosa was born in the Philippines and graduated from the University of Manila as an architect. She raised her family in the Philippines, then brought them to the US in 1967. She has four children―three girls and one boy, nine grandchildren and one great granddaughter (her youngest granddaughter has had three heart transplants!). A US citizen, in 1978 she passed her architecture exams to become a licensed architect in the US. She was involved in Los Angeles city management both as an architect and as a board member of the Los Angeles Building and Safety Commission (appointed by Mayor Tom Bradley). She has been a volunteer in the Woman’s Health Initiative for over 20 years. She is active in her Methodist church.
She explains why at age 80 she had the Watchman device installed in her heart in December, 2010.