For most of his 20 years of life, Chaz Hill remembers being tired and not sleeping well. Doctors attributed his fatigue to restless leg syndrome. For Chaz, feeling tired was normal. But, while working at a local restaurant, he cut his finger and sought treatment at the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie emergency room. Monitoring of his vital signs revealed that Chaz had a pulse of 34 beats per minute, an extremely low reading. After reviewing more tests and his medical history, the emergency department physician referred him to an electrophysiologist (EP) on the medical staff at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas.
"I had to quit my job because every shift I would suffer an episode of weakness and fainting," recalls Chaz. "I would feel my heart racing and beating through my chest. So, I was glad to have the heart specialists at Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas on my case."
Chaz's diagnostic regimen included an electrocardiogram, heart monitor, electrophysiologic study and evaluations by additional cardiac specialists. This determined that Chaz was experiencing ventricular tachycardia and premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), extra heartbeats that begin in one of the lower chambers of the heart.
"Prior to undergoing my procedure at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas, 26 percent of my daily heartbeats were PVCs, totaling over 40,000 abnormal beats per day," say Chaz. "I was told that people generally experience only a handful of PVCs in any given day."
Chaz's first ablation procedure treated the inside of his heart. The minimally invasive procedure involved introducing catheters equipped with tiny electrodes through a vein in his groin and up into his heart, targeting the area producing the abnormal electrical activity that was causing his irregular heartbeats. The electrodes recorded the electrical activity in his heart and delivered heat via radiofrequency energy to the targeted areas to block the abnormal activity. After the five-hour procedure and a few hours of recovery, Chaz went home that night. But Chaz soon discovered that his symptoms had returned.
His cardiologist scheduled a specialized procedure with an electrophysiologist cardiologist on the medical staff with the ventricular tachycardia ablation expertise needed for Chaz's specific heart condition. This time, the two-hour procedure targeted areas on the outside surface of Chaz's heart and used the same radiofrequency energy to treat the areas that were causing the abnormal beats. Chaz said most of the procedure involved mapping the outside of his heart to precisely locate the areas that needed treatment while the actual ablation took very little time. After an overnight stay in the hospital, Chaz returned home the next day.
"My ventricular tachycardia ablation was performed on December 14, 2017 and since then I've experienced no extra heartbeats," says Chaz. "I'm feeling awesome and I have lots of extra energy I didn't know I had. I can now play intramural sports at the university and play with the kids in the after school program where I volunteer." A repeat monitor one month later showed his number of abnormal beats decreased from over 40,000 PVCs per day to zero.
"Before my procedure, 26 percent of my heartbeats were extra, that's 40,000 extra heartbeats per day. After my procedure, I have all this extra energy I didn't even know I had. My fatigue is gone and I get a good night's sleep."Chaz is a business major at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie. He is pursing a minor in teaching English as a second language. After graduation, he wants to teach English in a Southeast Asian country. In his spare time, he volunteers at an after-school program for underprivileged children sponsored by Common Ground Ministries in Waxahachie.
Chaz Hill, ventricular tachycardia ablation patient, Waxahachie, Texas.