Heart Rhythm Center

Our Heart Rhythm Center, located across the street from Good Samaritan Hospital, provides an extensive range of services for patients with cardiac rhythm disturbances. Patients can receive complete diagnosis, treatment  and education.

Our Heart Rhythm Center gives patients easy access to cutting edge diagnostic capacities, as well as enhanced electrophysiology treatment to correct irregular heartbeats. Heartbeat irregularities have life-threatening consequences on their own and contribute to the risk of stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases.

For information about treatment through the Heart Rhythm Center, call (408) 879-5900.

Diagnosis and treatment procedures

The following is a list of diagnosis and treatment procedures performed at our Heart Rhythm Center:

  • EKG
  • Stress test / treadmill
  • Device clinic
  • Holter monitoring
  • Event monitoring
  • Echo

Heart irregularity treatments and therapies

Cardiac catheter ablation

The goal of a cardiac catheter ablation is to reset the heartbeat back to a normal rhythm. During a cardiac catheter ablation, a doctor inserts three or four catheters, which are thin, flexible wires, into the heart through the groin or neck. A special machine delivers energy through the catheter to mark a small area of the heart muscle that causes the abnormal heart rhythm. This energy gets rid of the pathway of the abnormal rhythm and resets your heart back to normal. This procedure normally takes two to four hours to complete.

Rhythms treated with ablation procedure

  • AV nodal reentrant tachycardia
  • Accessory pathway (Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome)
  • Atrial tachycardias (ectopic atrial tachycardias)
  • Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter
  • Ventricular tachycardia

The cardiac catheter ablation procedure is generally very safe. Although, the possible complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Pain where catheter was inserted

Following the procedure, you will be moved to recovery and will need to lie still for four to six hours to prevent bleeding from the catheter insertion site. Some patients may go home the same day, while other may be required to stay overnight depending on the type of catheter ablation performed. Recovery is usually quick.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a condition that causes an irregular or rapid heart rate, which can result in poor blood circulation. During an episode of atrial fibrillation, your heart’s two upper chambers will start to beat irregularly, bringing them out of sync with the other two lower chambers. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • General weakness

In some cases, episodes of atrial fibrillation will come and go. In others, it will happen continuously. There are three types of atrial fibrillation.

  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation refers to when atrial fibrillation occurs occasionally, then stops. In this type, the atrial fibrillation will stop by itself, and the heart will return to normal.
  • Persistent atrial fibrillation occurs when the body is unable to stop atrial fibrillation on its own. In these cases, medication or a special type of electric shock may be necessary to help your heart rate return to normal.
  • Permanent atrial fibrillation occurs when atrial fibrillation cannot be stopped, even with the use of medication or controlled electric shock. You could remain in a state of atrial fibrillation indefinitely.

Atrial fibrillation symptoms

Often, people with atrial fibrillation will not realize they have this condition. It is normally discovered in a physical exam and often there are no symptoms. In cases where atrial fibrillation comes and go, a person may experience a change in heart rate. Individuals who do have symptoms may experience:

  • A decrease in blood pressure
  • General weakness or fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Trouble breathing/ shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or heart palpitations

If atrial fibrillation is not properly treated, you run the risk of suffering a stroke or even heart failure.

What causes atrial fibrillation?

The most common cause of atrial fibrillation is abnormalities or damage to the heart’s structure. Other possible causes include:

  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Viral infections
  • Emphysema, or other lung diseases
  • Stimulant exposure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress caused by pneumonia
  • Overactive thyroid gland

You may be at a higher risk for atrial fibrillation if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Increased risk as you age
  • Have a history of heart disease
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Alcohol consumption
  • If you have a family history of atrial fibrillation

Treatment

The goals in treating atrial fibrillation are to bring your heart rate under control, reset your heart rhythm back to normal and prevent blood clots from developing. In most cases, the first course of action will be to administer medication that can slow your heart rate or reset your heart rate back to its normal rhythm. Your doctor may also prescribe blood thinners that will help prevent blood clots. When medication is not effective, procedures like electrical cardioversion and cardiac catheter ablation may be necessary.

WATCHMAN device

The WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device, is a minimally invasive procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation. Patients who suffer from non-valvular atrial fibrillation may be eligible for a WATCHMAN device.

The medical treatment for non-valvular atrial fibrillation, warfarin therapy, often is not tolerable for patients. The WATCHMAN device offers an alternative to warfarin that can help reduce the risk of stroke, and over time may allow patients to stop taking warfarin.

The one hour WATCHMAN procedure is performed under general anesthesia and only requires a brief 24-hour hospital stay.

Watchman-Device To learn more about the WATCHMAN device, or for a referral to Good Samaritan Hospital, please call Lisa Fletcher at (408) 879-5914 .

Pacemaker

Pacemakers are used to treat arrhythmias that are too slow. A healthy heart has its own pacemaker that regulates how fast it beats; however, some hearts have trouble beating regularly due to an interruption in the normal electrical pathway. In these cases, a pacemaker can be used to correct the problem. A pacemaker is a small device that sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle, causing it to contract at a suitable heart rate rhythm.
There are two different types of pacemakers:

  • Single chamber pacemakers deliver energy to the right ventricle to help it contract
  • Dual chamber pacemakers deliver energy to both ventricles to create a normal rhythm

The procedure to implant a pacemaker typically takes one to two hours. After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort. The incision area will be tender and swollen for a few days, for which pain medicine can be provided.

Bi-ventricular pacemaker

The BI-V pacemaker works with both the left and right side of the heart to keep the ventricles pumping together. This is known as cardiac resynchronization therapy.

Bi-V pacemakers improve the symptoms of heart failure in about 70 percent of people who have been treated with medications but still have severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms. In order to qualify for a BI-V pacemaker, you must be:

  • Taking medications to treat heart failure
  • Have delayed electrical activation of the heart
  • Have a low ejection fraction less than 35 percent

The procedure to insert a BI-V pacemaker typically takes two to four hours.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, more commonly referred to as an ICD, is a small electronic device that is used to monitor your heart rhythm. Once it is surgically implanted into your chest, it can detect a fast or abnormal rhythm in the lower chamber of your heart and deliver energy to correct the dangerous rhythm.

Typically, an ICD is recommended for people who:

  • Have experienced sudden cardiac arrest
  • Have experienced ventricular fibrillation
  • Have experienced ventricular tachycardia
  • Have had at least one prior heart attack
  • Have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

There are three different types of ICDs:

  • Single chamber ICD attaches to your right ventricle
  • Dual chamber ICD attaches two chambers on the same side of the heart
  • Bi-ventricular ICS attaches to three chambers in your heart

Generally, an ICD procedure takes between one and three hours.

Implantable loop recorder (ILR)

An implantable loop recorder is a small device that is implanted under the skin and is used to record the electrical activity of your heart. An IRL can help identify the causes of fainting, recurring palpitations, lightheadedness or dizziness.

Your doctor is able to capture an arrhythmia using the implantable loop recorder to accurately diagnose the heart irregularity. An IRL is inserted underneath the skin below the collarbone. This procedure typically takes 30 to 45 minutes and can be performed as an outpatient procedure.

Once inserted, the device continuously records heart activity for up to two years. The monitor can easily be removed once your symptoms are recorded or the battery runs out. Patients are given an activator to record your heart rhythm if you are experiencing symptoms.