Cardiac arrhythmias are disturbances in the rate or rhythm of the heart's electrical system. These disturbances can range from inconvenient to life-threatening. Our electrophysiology department, which specializes in electrical conduction in the heart, is a recognized leader in diagnosing and treating cardiac arrhythmias. The department of Electrophysiology has six physicians on the medical staff who are all board-certified in internal medicine, cardiology, and electrophysiology, and who practice in four full-time, advanced electrophysiology labs. The team of specially trained electrophysiology nurses and anesthesia providers will work with the electrophysiologist to provide your quality care. We diagnose the full spectrum of heart rhythm abnormalities, including but not limited to, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation. We offer proven diagnostic and treatment options for cardiac arrhythmias.
Heart rhythm management services we provide include:
- Pacemaker (heart beats too slow)
- Defibrillator (heart beats too fast)
- Heart failure device (for dysynchronous ventricles)
- Implantable loop recorder
We continue to be recognized as a leader in electrophysiology in the Metroplex and the nation because of our focus on successful outcomes, patient satisfaction, and our commitment to research. We achieve this through experience--experience that only a high-volume electrophysiology program can provide. Research studies have shown that the more experience a physician or institution has in performing a certain procedure, the more likely it is to achieve good outcomes.
Physicians on the medical staff at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital have participated in many of the developments in electrophysiology and continue to be involved in numerous ongoing research projects, including:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Congestive heart failure
- Pacing, including therapies for the management of heart failure, such as cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) (biventricular pacing, combined CRT and pacing and combined CRT and defibrillation)
We're Here for You
At Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital we are dedicated to creating an environment that is comfortable and truly patient centered. Although we perform a large number of tests and procedures, we put each individual patient front and center. We take a truly collaborative team approach. The physicians on our medical staff work with our nurses and other medical professionals so that all of your treatment options are considered, and so that you get the one that's right for you. It's also important for you to remember that the key player on your medical team is you. We will do everything we can to make sure you fully understand your condition, any tests you may need, and all of your treatment options. We encourage you to participate and become involved in your care. If your physician has recommended a particular treatment and you are unsure about the treatment option, we encourage you to contact us to learn more and evaluate possible alternatives.
An arrhythmia is simply a disruption in the heart's electrical system. Types of arrhythmias include tachycardia (your heart beats too fast), and bradycardia (your heart beats too slowly). We have developed particular expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation, particularly in cryoablation. In cryoablation, physicians use cold energy to alter heart tissue that is causing an arrhythmia. The electrophysiologists on our medical staff diagnose and treat the full range of heart rhythm disorders, including:
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT): This is an umbrella term for any rapid rate originating above the ventricles. SVTs include:
- Atrial fibrillation, the most common SVT in the United States, atrial fibrillation causes a quivering of the atria, that in turn impairs the heart's ability to function as a pump. Stroke is a risk because of blood clot formation.
- Atrial flutter, which is like atrial fibrillation, but results in a regular heart rhythm. The atria beat faster than the ventricles. The result is the same as atrial fibrillation: the heart's ability to function as a pump is impaired.
- Atrioventricular node reentry tachycardia (AV nodal reentry tachycardia or AVNRT) is an arrhythmia that occurs because of an extra pathway through the atrioventricular (AV) node. This results in a signal that continuously circulates, which is called reentry and can lead to a very fast heart rate.
- Atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT), like AVNRT, causes an electrical signal to travel in a circular pattern from the ventricles to the atria, but circumvents the AV node. This extra pathway is called an accessory pathway.
- Atrial tachycardia. Atrial tachycardia is a rapid heartbeat (100 beats per minute or more) that originates in the atria.
- Ventricular tachycardia: This is a rapid heart rate that is derived from the ventricles. A fast heart rate may impair the heart's ability to function as a pump.
- Ventricular fibrillation: Ventricular fibrillation is a rapid, uncontrolled beating of the heart that causes the heart to quiver rather than beat and pump blood. Ventricular fibrillation is considered a medical emergency because it can cause the heart to stop beating immediately, causing sudden cardiac death.
Before treatment options can be determined, several factors must be considered:
- Your age
- Your personal and family medical history
- All medications you are taking
- Any other diseases or conditions you may have
- Signs and symptoms of your current arrhythmia
Our services include:
- Evaluation of syncope: Syncope (fainting) can be diagnosed by using tilt table testing.
- Cardiac ablation: Cardiac ablation is an invasive procedure that uses specially designed catheters (tubes) that can be manipulated by an electrophysiologist to ablate (neutralize) cells causing the arrhythmia. The energy source for ablation most often uses radiofrequency (RF) energy; less often cryoablation (cold energy). Ablation has proven to be safe and effective in the treatment of arrhythmia, such as SVT and ventricular tachycardia.
- Implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs): ICDs are used to treat ventricular arrhythmia. These devices work by delivering a shock directly to the heart when the rate is too fast.
- Pacemakers: Pacemakers are used to treat bradycardia (slow heart rate); the device paces the heart to an adequate level.
- Cardiac resynchronization device: Used for heart failure management, a cardiac resynchronization device is a special pacemaker with the option of a defibrillator that paces both sides of the heart, thus resynchronizing the cardiac muscle contraction to optimize your heart's pumping function.
- Stereotaxis: Involves using a high-powered magnetic field to steer catheters (thin, flexible tubes) by remote control through blood vessels into the patient's heart to precisely locate (map) and then ablate (neutralize) the heart tissue that is causing the arrhythmia. Many patients with complex arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia are not eligible for manual catheter-based procedures because these procedures are extremely complex. They also typically have much longer procedure times than conventional ablation cases and lower success rates because of the extreme difficulty of positioning the catheter in hard-to-reach areas of the heart chambers. The Stereotaxis Magnetic Navigation System is designed to address these navigational challenges by providing precise magnetic guidance and positioning for the catheters.
- Laser-assisted lead extraction: In this procedure, electrophysiologists remove nonfunctioning ICD and pacemaker leads assisted by a laser, which helps to free the leads from scar tissue.
For a free consultation with a licensed professional to discuss your treatment options for a heart rhythm disorder, please call 214.820.0015.
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