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Trial Provides Successful Alternative to Blood Thinners

Frank Hallman standing in front of barn

Jun. 20 2022

Doctors prescribe stroke patients such as Frank long-term blood thinners to reduce the risk of a future stroke. While effective, long-term blood thinners can increase the risk of dangerous bleeding, interact with other medications and need to be taken at least once daily, possibly for the rest of the patient’s life.

“I really wanted to cut down on the number of daily pills I take,” Frank said. 

At a regular checkup, Robert A. Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI, cardiologist with Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center, asked if Frank had heard of the WATCHMAN FLX™.

WATCHMAN FLX is a device implanted in the left atrial appendage of the heart that eliminates the need for long-term blood thinners for some people, thereby preventing the problems associated with them.
Close up photo of Watchman device

“I had heard of the WATCHMAN, but I wasn’t sure if it was an option for me,” said 73-year-old Frank. “Dr. Leonardi mentioned that Lexington Medical Center was part of a trial for the technology, and I qualified to participate.”

Lexington Medical Center is one of 150 health care centers around the world selected to enroll patients in a global trial using WATCHMAN technology. The goal of the trial, called CHAMPION-AF, is to determine if the WATCHMAN FLX device is as good as long-term blood thinners at preventing stroke and cardiovascular death in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. 

“The CHAMPION-AF trial allowed Lexington Medical Center to participate actively in the establishment of better treatments for people with atrial fibrillation, not only in our community but across the globe,” Dr. Leonardi said.

“I immediately knew I wanted to participate,” said Frank.

He enrolled in the trial in October 2021. Frank was able to stop taking blood thinners, cutting down on his number of daily pills and sparing him from the potential side effects of blood thinners.

“Dr. Leonardi and his staff took great care of me the entire time,” added Frank. “The cardiologists at Lexington Medical Center are the only doctors I would trust.”

The CHAMPION-AF trial is a randomized trial, meaning patients either receive treatment with long-term blood thinners or a WATCHMAN FLX. Clinicians follow patients for five years after enrollment. Up to 3,000 patients worldwide will be selected for the trial.

“When I was on blood thinners, I constantly worried about what every little scratch could do,” said Frank. “Having the WATCHMAN means I can do yardwork worry-free.”

Frank is just one of many patients around the world benefiting from WATCHMAN technology. Six months after the trial began, Frank continues to live an active lifestyle and remains grateful to Lexington Medical Center for providing him with excellent care.

Head shot of Dr. Leonardi
Robert A. Leonardi, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Lexington Medical Heart and Vascular Center

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.