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The music of a healthy heart


Early in 2018 Kalispell Regional Healthcare added a new procedure to help patients who are at high risk for stroke. The Watchman procedure is the latest addition to an already comprehensive list of cardiac services offered by providers at  Rocky Mountain Heart & Lung. This minimally-invasive surgery is aptly named after the main component of the procedure, an implant called the Watchman device.

To understand the benefits of this device, it’s important to understand a little bit about the heart’s function. A healthy heart beats with a regular rhythm, like a musical conductor keeping time for the entire body. It thumps in the background, keeping the blood flowing and moving oxygen to the organs, lungs and brain.

Now, compare that beautiful music to the sounds heard on the first day of middle school band class when the conductor is absent: a collection of poorly timed honks and squeaks played by inexperienced musicians. There is no melody and certainly no harmony. This discord is similar to what the body goes through when affected by atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Patients with AFib experience an irregular, usually rapid, heartbeat. The heart’s upper chambers (atrias) beat out of sync with the lower chambers (ventricles) and commonly cause an increased risk of stroke, among other serious problems. When the beat is off, blood clots are prone to form in the heart and can be released into the bloodstream. The major concern for these patients is a blockage in the brain, or a stroke.

Simply put, the Watchman device closes the door to the area where clots form during AFib – keeping dangerous clots out of the bloodstream and the brain. With the intruding clots behind a locked door, the symphony can play on, with the heart keeping time as the conductor once again.

The Watchman procedure has many benefits. This tiny device significantly reduces the risk of stroke, eliminates the need to take daily medication for AFib patients who cannot tolerate long-term blood thinners, and offers a quick recovery.

Rocky Mountain Heart & Lung rounds out its comprehensive cardiac services with the addition of this procedure. In fact, the skilled and experienced providers at this clinic are now able to perform almost all FDA-approved heart surgeries and minimally invasive procedures, with the exception of heart transplants.

Learn more about cardiac services.

Changing lives through philanthropy

The Watchman procedure is a new addition at Kalispell Regional Healthcare thanks to a generous $1 million donation from James and CK Coles for the new hybrid operating room at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

Philanthropy gives our community the latest lifesaving equipment, improved facilities and access to highly trained medical professionals. Philanthropic support assures the tradition of excellent health care will continue for our patients and their families for future generations.

When you contribute to the Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation, you have a unique opportunity to make a direct impact on the delivery of health care in our community.