Does the rhythm of your heart feel off sometimes? During American Heart Month this February, we encourage you to talk to your primary care physician or cardiologist about any heart concerns you might have.
When a patient's heart rhythm gets knocked off course, either from a cardiac event or from chronic disease, it is often an electrophysiology team that performs a procedure to get the rhythm back on track. At Beebe Healthcare, the electrophysiology team is constantly advancing the care it provides to patients with abnormal heart rhythms. The team uses many technologies to correct rhythm issues, based on the patient's health issues, type of abnormal rhythm and best practices.
Recently, we completed the first biventricular His-bundle pacing procedure in Delaware. The His-bundle is an area in the heart that helps regulate its electrical system. This small bundle of nerve cells helps each person naturally allow for both halves of the heart to beat in unison, or synchronously. Studies dating back to the 1970s explored the importance of the His-bundle and found that it could be stimulated to resynchronize hearts which are beating out of sync.
While the studies show benefit from using this approach, many physicians still do not do procedures utilizing the His bundle because they are technically challenging and not suitable for all patients. For some patients, including those who do not have open vein pathways to the heart, stimulating the His bundle via a pacemaker lead insertion is the best option to restore synchrony in the heartbeats.
Determining what procedure to use to correct heart rhythm issues is a delicate balance. The electrophysiology team must look at many variables, including the patient's overall health, whether there is access to the heart via the veins, and what type of heart rhythm disorder the patient has.
As we age, the heart may get tired due to disease. This aging of the heart can cause a slight change in the heart rhythm. If the rhythm gets too out of sync, the electrophysiology team may need to install a pacemaker to help stimulate the heart muscle back into a normal rhythm. Normal pacemaker procedures use two leads – or wires – to stimulate the left and right sides of the heart. This helps the heart regulate its rhythm from side to side.
In other cases, the heart rhythm might need help from left to right sides and from top to bottom. For these patients, in addition to a pacemaker, the team may also utilize a third lead – or wire – to help stimulate the His bundle. This is the biventricular procedure, which includes the two traditional leads used in a pacemaker patient, plus a third lead to the His bundle. The third lead allows the natural electrical system of the heart to help regulate the heart rhythm. The His bundle pacing lead provides another tool to help restore normal cardiac function to a diseased heart.
For Beebe's electrophysiology team, having access to state-of-the-art electrophysiology labs will mean the ability to serve more patients close to where the patients live. The construction taking place currently at the Lewes campus will create space for a new hybrid operating room and expanded cardiac catheterization/electrophysiology labs.
The current project, funded by generous donations from the community through Beebe Medical Foundation, will utilize existing space for a new 4,302-square-foot cardiac and vascular treatment area. Of that space, 1,434 square feet will be for the new hybrid operating room, and 2,565 square feet will encompass the new cardiac cath and electrophysiology labs.
The project to add new cardiac labs in Lewes is very important because this is our community. I live here; my team lives here, and we want to continue to advance the care we provide here. It's a very exciting time at Beebe, and I am proud to be a part of it because we are providing high-quality care for our neighbors and everyone in our community.
For more information about Beebe Cardiac and Vascular Services, go to www.beebehealthcare.org/cardiac-vascular-services. For questions about heart health or to find a cardiologist, call Carrie Snyder, Cardiac and Vascular Nurse Navigator, at 844-316-3334.
Malick Islam, MD, is an electrophysiologist with Delaware Cardiovascular Associates, a practice affiliated with Beebe Healthcare. For more information, call 302-644-7676.