November 17, 2017

Linda’s Story – How a Device Called the Watchman Gave Her Freedom from Fear of Stroke

Linda Johnson remembers it like it was yesterday. While she was getting ready to leave town for a vacation, she suddenly fell down and blacked out.

After seeing her physician, Johnson soon learned the cause of her incident was a condition called atrial fibrillation, also known as A-Fib. Patients with A-Fib have an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

The fear of a stroke was growing, and causing Johnson extreme stress and constant worry. “Every day, it was on my mind,” she said. “Am I going to have a stroke today?”

“A-Fib is very common. It affects one in four adults over the age of 40,” said Joshua Leitner, MD, FACC, an interventional cardiologist with Asheville Cardiology Associates. “The strokes caused by A-Fib can be devastating.”

Johnson’s journey to improve her heart health led her to Dr. Leitner, who recommended she have a procedure to implant a device called the Watchman.

“It is extremely helpful and allows people who are at high risk to get treated and help prevent the risk of a stroke or a blood clot,” said Dr. Leitner.

Johnson’s procedure was a huge success, and she was amazed by how easy and comfortable the entire process was for her. “When I hear the patients talk about what they liked best about the procedure, they describe how easy it was for them,” said Dr. Leitner.

Now, Johnson doesn’t live in fear any longer. “I just feel like it gave me a new lease on life,” she said.

“It’s great to see people get better with this sort of targeted technology,” said Dr. Leitner. “That’s one of the things I love most about being a cardiologist.”

Joshua Leitner, MD, FACC, is an interventional cardiologist with Asheville Cardiology Associates.

For information about the Watchman device or to learn more about heart health, visit or call (828) 274-6000.

Mission Hospital has been named a 2018 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospital by IBM Watson Health/Truven – and ranks among the best in the nation on several key measures of cardiovascular care.