Treatment Options

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Cardiac Electrophysiology

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Many treatments provide long-term solutions for heart rhythm disorders. Here you can learn more about the treatments available at Swedish.

Ablation Techniques

Radiofrequency Ablation

In catheter ablation, no incisions are necessary as the procedure uses variants of IVs in the groin. Physicians guide a catheter with an electrode at the tip into the heart. The electrode helps pinpoint the site of the electrical problem. Radiofrequency energy is then used to ablate cardiac tissue contributing to the arrhythmia enabling a return to normal sinus rhythm.

Cryoablation

Cryoablation uses very cold temperatures to create lesions within the heart. It is often used as part of balloon delivery system to treat paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. It also has a role in pediatric populations.

Preparing for Catheter Ablation, What to Expect

Catheter ablation uses a variant of IVs in the groin to treat cardiac arrhythmias. There is very little in the way of preparation for these type of procedures. Some patients may require a CT or MRI in the weeks leading up to the procedure. A small minority may require a sophisticated ultrasound called a TEE in the days before the procedure. Most patients will need to hold at least one medication prior to the procedure for several days. All of these instructions will be well communicated but patients should call at anytime with any questions. Many patients can be discharged home on the day of procedure but some cases do require an overnight stay.

Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion

The EP physicians at Swedish are part of a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons that assesses patients with atrial fibrillation who may benefit from mechanical closure of the left atrial appendage. The technique used depends on a detailed evaluation of each patient.

Outpatient arrhythmia monitoring

Patients with suspected arrhythmias may require outpatient monitoring. Monitoring duration can range from one day to two years, depending on the situation. Most monitors are temporary and use stick-on electrodes, but in some cases a monitor may be implanted under the skin for longer-term use.

Outpatient Pacemaker and Defibrillator follow-up and management

We have a dedicated team trained in testing and follow-up of all implanted cardiac rhythm devices.

Pacemakers and Defibrillators

Cardiac Pacemakers

A battery-powered cardiac pacemaker is surgically implanted under a patient’s skin to correct electrical abnormalities that result in a slow heart rate (called bradycardia, where your heart beats at less than 60 beats per minute). The device has two or three wires that are positioned in the heart to help it beat in a more balanced way. If the patient’s heart rate tries to drop below the rate programmed by his or her physician, the pacemaker generates electrical impulses that pass through the wires to the heart muscle. These impulses make the upper and/or lower chambers of the heart beat to keep the pulse rate from slowing.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), like a pacemaker, is placed below the skin and connected to the heart with electrodes. In contrast to a pacemaker, which corrects a slow heart rate, an ICD uses either very rapid pacing or an internal electrical shock to slow down a fast heart rate (ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation as common examples). ICDs also incorporate pacemaker functions for those patients who require both.

Biventricular Pacemaker and Defibrillators

With heart failure, the heart’s ability to pump is weaker than normal and problems can develop in the ventricles (lower chambers) of the heart. A delay between the contraction of the right ventricle and the left ventricle often occurs. When this happens, the walls of the left ventricle are unable to contract at the same time. A biventricular device (CRT-P /D), which is designed to treat the delay in heart-ventricle contractions, can be used as a treatment option. This new therapy has been shown to improve symptoms of heart failure, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance.

Research

In the video below, cardiac electrophysiologist Darryl S Wells describes how catheters and systems being developed today will revolutionize future patient treatment. He also cites Swedish's excellence in clinical care combined with excellence in ongoing active research.