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Bill's Story

Heart & Vascular Care
“We had so much stress with the bleeding and fear of stroke. Now we can relax. The Watchman saved our lives.”

From Wearing Thin to Thriving

Bill Morgan, an 86-year-old retired professor from Sartell, never had signs of heart trouble. He never expected to worry about his heart health. But that all changed two years ago.

“I worked out the day before.” Bill remembered, “I thought I was just sore from some upper-body work. But it was persistent, so my wife, Judy, called the ambulance. The paramedic confirmed it. I was having a heart attack.”

The doctors at the CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center treated Bill quickly, putting in stents to stop his heart attack. Bill’s doctors also identified an irregular heartbeat caused by atrial fibrillation (AFib). The providers prescribed a combination of anti-platelet agents to keep his stents open as well as a blood thinner to reduce the risk of stroke related to AFib. For a while, it was smooth sailing. But soon Bill developed issues with his blood thinners.

“The bleeding was persistent. One time, I was at a restaurant with my family. My elbow started bleeding without me even realizing it. I didn’t notice until I saw my granddaughter mopping up the stream of blood on the table.”

Judy was constantly stressed about her husband's health. “That year was pretty traumatic. I was always questioning, what will go wrong next?”

Then Bill’s doctors presented an alternative to the blood thinner, the Watchman. This small device prevents the release of blood clots from the left atrial appendage, greatly reducing the risk of stroke and allowing patients to stop using their blood thinner. It is just as effective, if not more so than blood thinners at preventing strokes and is associated with a greatly reduced risk of bleeding. The implant procedure is quick, low risk, involves only a 24-hour hospital stay, and all done using a tiny catheter.

Once Bill and Judy understood what the Watchman could do, they didn’t hesitate. Bill was tested to ensure he was a good candidate for the procedure. When the tests confirmed his heart would support the device, he was quickly scheduled for surgery.

Bill and Heart Center teamThanks to the Watchman, Bill no longer takes blood thinners. He’s enjoying an active retirement, writing and spending time with his 12 great-grandchildren. He even volunteers as a device ambassador, speaking to AFib patients considering the Watchman.

Bill and Judy are grateful to the Heart Center, especially Jacob Dutcher, MD, and Angie Paschke, APRN. Judy remarked, “This was a very positive experience. We had so much stress with the bleeding and fear of stroke. Now we can relax. The Watchman saved our lives.”

Learn more about how the Watchman works.