The life of a caretaker can be stressful, especially when the patient is a parent. Dana Anderson has cared for her mother, Willadean Hines, since she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib) in 2017. AFib is a heart condition that causes an irregular or rapid heart rate which increases a person’s risk for stroke, heart failure and blood clots. After the diagnosis and receiving excellent care at UnityPoint Health – Trinity, Dana says she and her mother learned about the WATCHMAN device which has changed their lives forever.
“I’ve been taking care of my mother for a long time. So, I’m always skeptical and cautious when it comes to her health decisions,” says Anderson. “But after a lot of research, it really seemed like WATCHMAN was exactly what we had been looking for.”
UnityPoint Health – Trinity is the only health system in the Quad Cities performing the WATCHMAN device procedure and Hines was among the first in the area to receive it. The typical treatment for AFib is blood thinning medication – but for Willadean, taking pills every day wasn’t a good option. Blood thinning medication created a greater risk for Hines because of her already existing fall risk. Instead, her physicians believed the WATCHMAN device could be a simple, long-term solution. It’s a one-time, minimally invasive procedure that acts like an umbrella in the heart to keep blood from clotting. Many recipients of the WATCHMAN device can stop taking blood thinners and get back to a more normal life.
“The team was so helpful and communicative in easing us into this decision,” says Anderson. “I’ve had a lot of experience with my mom and the health care industry, and the cardiac team at UnityPoint Health – Trinity was top notch. I’ve been telling everyone they need to go there for their heart care.”
Anderson says her mother’s procedure went exactly as planned and because it was minimally invasive, she was able to return home quickly after an overnight stay in the hospital for observation. Anderson says the recovery time was short and her mother experienced little to no pain or issues associated with the recovery process. The WATCHMAN device now offers peace of mind that her mother’s stroke risk is greatly reduced, and she can live her life more independently.
“I can’t be there all the time to watch over her and protect her,” said Anderson. “I want her to have her independence and have the feeling that she can go to the store as long as she’s able. WATCHMAN has been such a blessing in giving her more freedom to live her life like she wants to, without us having to worry all the time.”
The UnityPoint Health – Trinity Heart Center uses today’s cutting-edge diagnostic and interventional care to help patients live full and vibrant lives. The heart team is always ready to meet the changing needs of the greater Quad Cities community, combining high technology with a human touch to provide a better outcome for every patient, every time.
If you have AFib or believe you’re at risk and would like more information on the WATCHMAN device, visit unitypoint.org or contact Trinity’s Watchman Coordinator at (309) 779-2145.