Dameron Hospital's Electrophysiology (EP) Program offers comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options for AFib patients in San Joaquin County. The lab is a designated space where a physician or Electrophysiologist uses hi-tech instrumentation to monitor and map the electrical systems of the heart and treat heart rhythm problems or arrhythmias. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common types of arrhythmias, and it is estimated that one in four patients over age 40 will experience it in their lifetime.
Our EP lab, part of our cardiac catheterization lab, is staffed with full-time registered nurses, radiology technicians, electrophysiologists, cardiologists, and anesthesiologists. The lab is under the leadership of Rashaad Chothia, MD, a board-certified cardiologist, Electrophysiologist and Dameron's EP Program medical director.
What is AFib?
AFib causes your heart to beat much faster than normal. Also, your heart's upper and lower chambers do not work together as they should. When this happens, the lower chambers do not fill completely or pump enough blood to your lungs and body. This condition can make you feel tired or dizzy, or you may notice heart palpitations or chest pain. Blood also pools in your heart, which increases your risk of forming clots and can lead to strokes or other complications.
How can you fix AFib, and what are the treatment options?
The main procedures we conduct in the EP lab to help in the treatment of AFib and other arrhythmias include:
- 3-D Cardiac mapping: mapping the movements of electrical impulses throughout the heart muscle in real-time to help physicians see where an irregular heart rhythm may be originating.
- Cardiac ablation: involves guiding a catheter into your heart to destroy or isolate the hot spots causing your abnormal heartbeat. The 3-D mapping system functions as a GPS in creating the anatomy of your heart and, in conjunction with live cardiac ultrasound imaging, lets your doctor see the catheters as they are moved into your heart. Some catheters have wire electrodes that locate and record the source of your abnormal heartbeats. Once those sources are mapped, radio frequency waves are sent through the catheter to create a scar around them. This scar forms a barrier that prevents electrical impulses from crossing between the damaged heart tissue to the surrounding healthy tissue. This stops abnormal electrical signals from traveling to the rest of the heart and causing arrhythmias. One of the advantages of this approach is that in most cases, fluoroscopy, an x-ray imaging method that uses radiation, is not required.
- Device insertion: implanting devices such as a pacemaker or cardioverter-defibrillator to help correct heart rhythm problems. For patients with bradycardia, a condition characterized by a slow heart rhythm.
Dameron offers the world's smallest pacemaker with the most advanced pacing technology available for patients. The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System is only one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and treats patients with slower heart rhythms, usually fewer than 60 beats per minute. Contact your cardiologist for more information.
Rashaad Chothia, MD
Board-Certified: Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease and Internal Medicine
MD: Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland; University of California, Riverside, California
Residency: University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas
Fellowships: Cardiology & Clinical Cardiology Electrophysiology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York
Member: American Board of Medical Specialties; American Board of Internal Medicine
Certifications: ECFMG certified
Professional Interests: Electronic cardiac device implantation and laser lead extraction; catheter ablation of heart rhythm disorders; atrial fibrillation; supraventricular tachycardia; ventricular tachycardia; inherited cardiac arrhythmias
"With the right diagnosis and treatment, you can live your life on your terms and not have atrial fibrillation dictate what you can and can't do. The techniques we use at Dameron for patients with atrial fibrillation are used throughout the world. Our patients receive a full consultation, which includes education on the condition and treatment options. It's critical that patients are part of the decision-making process when moving forward with a treatment plan. Every patient and every condition is different and we want to be sure we do what's best for you!"
What to expect
You will lie on a special exam table with a large camera and several television monitors overhead during any of the above procedures. Before treatment begins, a nurse will insert an IV into your arm for medications and fluids. You will be given a sedative to keep you comfortable yet still awake.
Electrodes will be placed on your chest. The electrodes are painless, and they will feel like sticky patches with lightweight wires attached. The electrodes are connected to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine that will chart your heart's electrical activity.
A catheter, a flexible, narrow tube, is inserted at your arm or groin through a small incision after the site is numbed. The catheter is then inserted through the incision, where the ablation procedure or placement of a device is completed.
Procedures generally take about 1 hour, but it will take longer if ablation is needed. Afterward, you may be in the hospital overnight, but most people have a relatively rapid recovery.