Atrium Medical Center Logo(513) 974-2111

Boyd's Story

Boyd In-ContentBoyd Smith has lived in Monroe, Ohio, for his entire life, all 87 years of it. He's been married for 63 years to his wife, Virginia, and they have three daughters, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He retired from his bank management job 15 years ago, and has loved retirement. By all accounts, Boyd is a lucky man.

Living with Atrial Fibrillation 

Behind the scenes, however, Boyd was dealing with atrial fibrillation for several years. Atrial fibrillation or A Fib, is a condition where the heart works hard trying to pump blood. It quivers out of rhythm rather than relaxing and contracting, creating an irregular heartbeat. As a result, blood can pool and create a clot. If the clot breaks away, it can be deadly, causing a stroke.

Boyd had not recognized any symptoms of his atrial fibrillation; it was discovered during an unrelated doctor's appointment, which is often the case for many people with A Fib. He was put on warfarin, a blood-thinning medication, to decrease the risk of an A-Fib related stroke. Eventually, he had a pacemaker implanted, as well. “I really felt a difference with the pacemaker,” says Boyd.  As a side effect of the coumadin, Boyd developed a gastrointestinal bleed and had to be taken off the medication. 

“Patients who need the medication to prevent stroke due to atrial fibrillation are caught between a rock and a hard place,” says Sandeep Gupta, MD, electrophysiologist at Atrium Medical Center. “They have this risk of bleeding from the medication, or the risk of stroke without the medication.”

Reducing the Risk of A Fib-related Stroke

The pacemaker allowed Dr. Gupta to continue to monitor Boyd's atrial fibrillation, and regular tests indicated his increased risk for stroke. “I had tests periodically where my pacemaker showed times when my heart went out of rhythm,” Boyd says. “Recently, one of the tests showed that it was out for quite some time. At that point, Dr. Gupta recommended the WATCHMAN™.”

At the time of Boyd's diagnosis with the gastrointestinal bleed, there wasn't another treatment option to lower his risk of A Fib-related stroke. Now, a catheter-based intervention is available that can potentially free people with A Fib from the problematic side effects of long-term blood thinners: a left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) using the WATCHMAN device.

A multidisciplinary structural heart team inserts a special device-carrying catheter into a large blood vessel, usually in the groin. Advanced X-rays and ultrasounds are used to gently guide the catheter to the left atrium of the heart. Once in place the implant device is released. A spring-action mechanism opens the device and anchors it over the opening to the appendage. Often, patients will describe their experience with left atrial appendage closure as comparable to a cardiac catheterization

“A stroke results from a clot in the left atrial appendage. The WATCHMAN closes the opening, like a plug in the heart chamber,” explains Dr. Gupta. “It closes off the space where blood pools and clots.”

“If a person is at risk for stroke, but they are also at risk for falling or getting hurt in a similar way, then blood thinning medication is not an option due to the risk of bleeding,” Dr. Gupta says. “WATCHMAN is the better option to prevent stroke if the patient can't take the medication.”

While patients may not notice a change in how they're feeling physically after the device is implanted, the reduced risk of stroke is the main benefit. “I absolutely have greater peace of mind knowing it's there,” says Boyd.

Don't Give Your Heart to Just Anyone. Trust Premier Health.

Improving the quality of your life is at the heart of what we do. Premier Health hospitals are proud to provide a wide spectrum of heart and vascular services across Southwest Ohio. We offer compassionate, award-winning care designed for positive patient outcomes – with fewer complications, shorter recoveries and long-lasting benefits. We welcome patients seeking second opinions about their heart and vascular treatment options.

If you or a loved one would like more information about cardiovascular programs offered by Premier Health, please call (937) 499-7427(937) 499-7427.

Content Updated: January 22, 2019

These Atrium Medical Center locations offer Cardiology Services.
Cardiology and Vascular Services at Atrium Medical Center
One Medical Center Dr. Middletown, OH  45005
Outpatient Cardiac Testing and Rehabilitation at Atrium Health Center Mason
7450 Mason Montgomery Rd. Mason, OH  45040
Outpatient Cardiac Testing and Rehabilitation at Atrium Health Center Trenton
3590 Busenbark Rd. Trenton, OH  45067
Outpatient Cardiac Testing and Rehabilitation at Atrium Medical Center
One Medical Center Dr. Middletown, OH  45005
Looking for a specific department or phone number?
Visit the Atrium Medical Center Directory.

Didn't find what you were looking for?

Search all Premier Health services, procedures and treatments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram