McLaren Macomb first in Macomb County to perform Watchman procedure for stroke prevention

Dr. M. Cameron Willoughby
MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich.—McLaren Macomb, through its comprehensive cardiology program in the Mat Gaberty Heart Center, is the only hospital in Macomb County to offer the Watchman device for stroke prevention for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm. The device is an alternative for patients prescribed with a long-term anticoagulant, a blood thinning medication.

A minimally invasive procedure performed in the cardiac catheterization lab, once deployed the Watchman device closes off the left atrial appendage, a small, non-vital opening in the heart’s left atrium muscle wall. For patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, blood can pool in this appendage, increasing the chances of clots forming and traveling through the blood stream to the brain, potentially leading to a life-threatening ischemic stroke.

The Watchman safely and effectively seals the opening to the appendage, not allowing blood to pool and potentially create troublesome clots. This can lead to patients on long-term anticoagulation therapy to no longer require the blood thinning medication, which can carry risks of complications.

“The Watchman device is a great alternative for atrial fibrillation patients who are unable to take anticoagulants to prevent strokes,” said Dr. M. Cameron Willoughby, a cardiac electrophysiologist with McLaren Macomb. “We are enthusiastic to be able to provide this service for the patients in our community.”

The device is implanted via a catheter inserted into the groin and tunneled up to the heart and the left atrial appendage for deployment. The Watchman was approved by the FDA after extensive clinical trials, which showed strong evidence that the device can be safely implanted and reduce the chances of stroke in eligible patients.

Patients with atrial fibrillation live with a greater risk for stroke. The non-valvular form of atrial fibrillation is caused by conditions such as high blood pressure or an overactive thyroid rather than a faulty heart valve. Blood thinning medications help prevent the formations of blood clots in patients’ bloodstreams.

Atrial fibrillation, affecting more than five million people in the United States, is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, with 20 percent of all strokes occurring in patients with atrial fibrillation.

To learn more about cardiovascular services at McLaren Macomb or to make an appointment with a cardiologist, visit

About McLaren Macomb

McLaren Macomb is a 288-bed acute care hospital located in Mount Clemens, Mich. More than 400 physicians and nearly 2,000 employees work at McLaren Macomb making it one of Macomb County’s top employers. McLaren Macomb provides a full range of services, including cancer and cardiovascular care. As Macomb County’s first verified trauma center, the hospital operates the busiest emergency department in Macomb County and is also an accredited chest pain center. McLaren Macomb has a rich history of providing high quality, compassionate health care and holds a strong position in the community it serves. To learn more, visit or follow our blog

About McLaren Health Care

McLaren Health Care, headquartered in Grand Blanc, Michigan, is a fully integrated health network committed to quality, evidence-based patient care and cost efficiency. The McLaren system includes 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, a 490-member employed primary and specialty care physician network, commercial and Medicaid HMOs covering more than 620,000 lives in Michigan and Indiana, home health and hospice providers, retail medical equipment showrooms, pharmacy services, and a wholly owned medical malpractice insurance company. McLaren operates Michigan’s largest network of cancer centers and providers, anchored by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S. McLaren has 26,000 employees and more than 85,500 network providers. Its operations are housed in more than 350 facilities serving Michigan and Indiana.