UP Health System – Marquette cardiovascular specialists introduce cutting-edge procedure to Upper Peninsula

July 1, 2016

July 1st, 2016 – MARQUETTE – UP Health System – Marquette cardiologists continue to pave the way forward for specialized heart care in the Upper Peninsula after completing a successful case of an innovative procedure yesterday. 

UP Health System – Marquette is the first hospital in the region to bring the Watchman™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device to Upper Peninsula patients. The procedure is an FDA-approved alternative to blood thinning medicines for patients with atrial fibrillation.

Drs. Rudy Evonich, Kris Dosh and Gary Friesen completed the Watchman™ procedure at UP Health System – Marquette. Dr. Evonich said,  “My vision for our program has always been to provide cutting edge heart rhythm care for the patients of the Upper Peninsula. This is another example of that and differentiates us from other hospitals in our region. This one hour procedure provides protection against stroke and can replace a lifetime of blood thinning medication use. This procedure is not available in Green Bay, Wausau, Petoskey or Traverse City. It is only being offered in high volume centers with proven success and safety in performing complex invasive heart procedures.”

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an irregular, rapid heart beat in the upper chamber of the heart that can lead to clot formation in a small cavity known as the left atrial appendage. If that clot breaks free it can travel to the brain where it can cause a stroke. An estimated 3 million Americans are living with AF, and patients with AF have a five times greater risk of stroke. Most patients with AF are treated with blood thinning medicines, but some patients are at high risk of bleeding making that treatment risky. 

The Watchman™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device is an alternative to warfarin therapy for stroke prevention in some patients with atrial fibrillation. The device is delivered to the heart via a catheter placed in the leg. The device provides protection against stroke that is comparable to long-term use of a blood thinning medicine without the excess risk of bleeding. In studies of the device, patients who received the Watchman had less bleeding, less death and fewer disabling strokes when compared to those who continued to take warfarin.

Clinical Director at UP Health System – Marquette Robert Kroll said, “The Heart & Vascular Center at UP Health System – Marquette is bringing the safest, most effective treatment options right here to the Upper Peninsula. Whether you need the Watchman procedure, catheter ablation, a stent procedure or trans-catheter aortic valve replacement, you don’t need to go out of state or south of the bridge. You can stay right here at home.”

Those interested in learning more about the procedure should consult their primary care provider to learn if Watchman™ is a viable option for them.

For more information, contact UP Health System – Marquette Heart & Vascular at (906) 225-3870


For media inquiries, contact Victor Harrington, Regional Director of Business Development and Marketing for UP Health System, at (906) 225-4771, or Victor.Harrington@mghs.org.