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Bellevue man among first to receive AFib implant

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 6:08 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - February is heart health month. Every year 15 million Americans are diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, otherwise known as A-Fib. 

Former Bellevue Public Schools Coach and P.E. Teacher David Ksiasek is one of them.

“I was always active,” said Ksiasek. “All of a sudden, they said you better go to a cardiologist because you have an irregular heartbeat.”

Ksiasek has been living with A-fib for the past 15 years. Part of his treatment is blood thinner twice a day.

“That’s a disadvantage because always in the back of your mind you could bleed out on blood thinners,” said Ksiasek.

Now, it’s no longer a concern for the former coach, the blood thinners have been replaced by a device called the Watchman FLX.

“It looks like an umbrella or Jellyfish,” said Dr. Himanshu Agarwal.

Agarwal is a Cardiologist with CHI Health Bergan Mercy, one of three sites in the world to test and implant the device in a patient.

“A lot of times AFIB presents with rapid heartbeat,” said Agarwal. 

As the Cardiologist explains A-Fib is a condition that begins in the upper chamber of the heart.

“So, they can complain of pounding in the chest fluttering of the chest sometimes it can go on for days that can make them very tired,” said Agarwal.

A-fib patients are also at great risk for a stroke but that risk is decreased significantly with the Watchman placed by catheter directly into the area of the heart where strokes begin.

“So, any clots in that area, there’s no place for clots to form and go to the brain,” said Agarwal.

The technology of the Watchman FLX is not new, it’s FDA approved and has been in use since 2020, but what could be changing is the application of the device.

“We have used this device for a different application for patients who have problems with blood thinners and yes it works,” said Agarwal.

The hope is the clinical trial will show the Watchman as a safe and viable option for all A-fib patients.

When asked, Ksiasek said he jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the trial.

“I was just really excited because I wanted to get off the medicine,” said Ksiasek.

For it wasn’t just the chance to get off the medication but also to get back to living life to the very fullest.

“Living on a lake, eight grandkids, keep me hopping. I need that good heart in me to keep doing this stuff,” said Ksiasek.

For more information on the Watchman device or the clinical trial, contact 402-343-8511 or you can also email research@alegent.org.

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