Options for innovative arrhythmia treatment

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Minimally invasive techniques continue to be a significant focus for both the patient and physician. The benefits of adopting these new procedures are many, but the most substantial is the ability to diagnose and treat conditions through small openings or veins.

One specialty that has adopted minimally invasive techniques more aggressively is interventional cardiology, specifically cardiac electrophysiology (EP). Cardiac EP is the science of diagnosing and treating abnormalities affecting the heart’s conduction system, or the electrical system responsible for maintaining and monitoring a consistent and healthy heartbeat. The most common EP procedures focus on locating the source of arrhythmias (also called dysrhythmia).

“Many people are not familiar with arrhythmia management as a specialty of medicine until it affects them personally,” says Robert Tancredi, M.D., F.A.C.C., executive medical director, Hoag Heart and Vascular Institute. “There has been so much emphasis on coronary artery disease, that it can be a surprise to learn that there is an entire electrical system also keeping the heart running. There are electricians and there are plumbers of the heart. Some physicians handle electrical short-circuits, while others work on clogged pipes.”

A widespread problem

In the United States, more than 850,000 people are hospitalized for an arrhythmia each year. While there are a number of different types of arrhythmias, the most common type is atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heart rhythm that causes the heart to contract abnormally.

“Thousands of people in Orange County suffer from some form of cardiac arrhythmia,” continues Tancredi. “Atrial fibrillation is one of the most under-diagnosed, under-treated health issues today. Many individuals are living with an undiagnosed arrhythmia and simply attribute the symptoms to advancing age.”
While many arrhythmias can be silent and asymptomatic, people often do experience a number of symptoms that may indicate an arrhythmia. When symptoms of an arrhythmia occur, they may include:
Palpitations (a feeling of skipped heart beats, fluttering or “flip-flops,” or feeling that your heart is “running away”) Pounding in your chest Dizziness or feeling light-headed. Fainting. Shortness of breath. Chest discomfort. Weakness or fatigue (feeling very tired)

Innovative procedures for atrial fibrillation

Traditional treatment of atrial fibrillation focuses on medications that slow down a rapid heart rate, and blood thinners that prevent clot formation. However, innovative procedures are now available that offer individuals the potential for living a medication-free life. Hoag is committed to providing the latest in leading-edge diagnostic and treatment options for atrial fibrillation. These procedures are performed in high volume at the Hoag Heart and Vascular Institute by its multidisciplinary team of experts.
The Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute provides a full array of advanced treatment options for atrial fibrillation, including innovative ablative techniques that often eliminate or reduce the frequency of irregular heartbeats. Catheter ablation, a non-surgical technique, provides such an opportunity. During the procedure, a cardiac electrophysiologist performs a “mapping” of the heart’s electrical impulses to uncover the source of the abnormal heart rhythm. Once located, radiofrequency energy may be used to destroy the abnormal tissue, thus correcting the condition.

Another option for some patients is a surgical treatment called Mini-Maze – a minimally invasive surgical procedure used in patients when other treatments have been unsuccessful.
Building a recognized program
Hoag has had its sights on the field of cardiac EP for more than 20 years and began making the investments needed – in technology and staff – many years ago in an effort to remain ahead of the curve and offer the latest services to the communities it serves.

According to Tom Lonergan, executive operations director, The Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute, “Hoag has embarked on an ambitious construction project in an effort to expand our cardiovascular capabilities and further improve the care we are able to provide our patients.”
This year, Hoag Hospital Newport Beach will break ground on two new, state-of-the-art catheterization labs focused on arrhythmia management. These new facilities will provide the imaging technology needed to perform some of the most complex cardiovascular procedures while improving patient outcomes. The new facilities are scheduled to be completed in early 2011.

Hoag also realized another major milestone in its endeavor, with the addition of a new medical director, Jay Lee, M.D., who will lead Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute’s arrhythmia program. Under Dr. Lee’s direction, Hoag will strive to become a nationally recognized program with the staff and technological capabilities needed to treat the full scope of patients.

About Dr. Lee

Jay Lee, M.D. is a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist. Dr. Lee specializes in the treatment of atrial fibrillation and has a strong interest in novel treatments for atrial fibrillation, including catheter ablation, surgical and hybrid ablations, robotic-guided ablation, and non-pharmacologic strategies for reducing stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation.

Hoag has a robust electrophysiologist program that brings the professional credentials, clinical experience and compassionate care necessary to support patients and their families.
Hoag-affiliated physicians specializing in electrophysiology:

• Rajesh Banker, M.D. 
• Mahnaz Behboodikhah, M.D. 
• Brian Chesnie, M.D. 
• Suzanne Feigofsky, M.D. 
• Inderpal Gujral, M.D. 
• Neala Hunter, M.D. 
• Nirav Joshi, M.D. 
• Brian Kim, M.D. 
• Thuy Le, M.D. 
• Jay Lee, M.D. 
• Michael Panutich, M.D. 
• Michael Radin, M.D.

To learn more about Hoag’s innovative treatment options for arrhythmia, call 949/764-5871.