Device developed in Minneapolis has potential to help heart patients

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[Star Tribune, November 09, 2013] A tiny wire and mesh device to prevent strokes, first doodled on a napkin by a pair of Minneapolis cardiologists, is a step closer to regulatory approval and to what analysts estimate will be a $1 billion market.

The Watchman, which helps stave off strokes by plugging a cul-de-sac in the heart where clots form, will go before an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11. All of which is excellent news to Dr. Robert Schwartz and Dr. Robert Hauser, cardiologists with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, who came together on the idea nearly a decade ago.

Dr. Bill Katsiyiannis of the Minneapolis Heart Institute has repeatedly implanted the device in patients. He has no financial stake in the device, yet is a clear champion for using it on atrial fibrillation patients who have a risk of stroke, but for whom blood thinners are not a good option. This is the way to go for those people,” he said. “It fills a very specific need, and it’s a big need.”

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