Put a little love in your heart

Woman in red shirt making heart with hands

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Your heart is a crucial organ, so it’s important to take good care of it. One of the excellent team members at Spectrum Health is Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, a cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology.

An electrophysiologist is a doctor who works on the electrical systems in your heart. Heart rhythm problems are also called arrhythmias. A heart arrhythmia is when your heart beats irregularly. Your heart might beat too fast, too slow, or at an irregular pace.

When a heart beats too fast, it is called tachycardia – this is usually more than 100 beats per minute. When it beats too slowly, at less than 60 beats per minute, it’s called bradycardia. People might feel a fluttering in their chest; they might feel their heart racing or beating too slow.

You could feel:

  • Pounding
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Arrhythmias can happen even if your heart is healthy. Some arrhythmias are caused by:

  • Heart disease
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Changes in heart muscle
  • Injury from heart attack

Spectrum Health treats all forms of irregular heartbeat. Some common types include:

  • Atrial Fibrillation: a common rhythm disorder that causes the upper chambers of the heart to contract abnormally.
  • Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach): rapid heart rhythm starting from the lower chambers. This causes the heart to beat too fast to fill up with blood properly.
  • Long QT Syndrome: a potentially dangerous arrhythmia that can cause sudden death. It is often treated with medications or defibrillators.

Electrophysiologists use several methods to help treat patients who have irregular heartbeats. An EP study is a test that records your heart’s electrical activities and pathways. It can help find out what’s causing heart rhythm problems and find the best treatment for you. During the test, your doctor will safely reproduce your abnormal heart rhythm and then may give you different medications to see which controls it best, or to see what procedure or device you need to treat it.

Other tests for rhythm disorders include:

  • Echocardiogram or electrocardiogram
  • Stress Test
  • Holter or event monitor

Medications are often prescribed to help treat symptoms and improve the patient’s health. If medications are not effective, there are implant options such as pacemakers and defibrillators.

Dr. Elmouchi specializes in ablation, a procedure done through a catheter. It “rewires” the heart to fix the electrical problem. A catheter is inserted through the groin and threaded to the heart. The device delivers a high-frequency electrical energy called a radiofrequency ablation, which disconnects the pathway for the irregularity. He can also use a freezing device called a cryoblation. The irregular signals are blocked by a coolant rather than heat. Cryoblation is a newer method that uses freezing temperatures on specific areas. The method allows doctors to do a temporary test, showing if they are in the correct location of the heart, before they permanently treat the tissue. Ablations are done when:

  • Medicine isn’t controlling the issue
  • With some patients with AFib
  • If you have a life threatening arrhythmia

Learn more about heart health at an upcoming Doctor Dialogue with Spectrum Health. “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” is a free seminar that will focus on preventative cardiology and heart attack. It is at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 18, at Frederik Meijer Gardens. A complimentary dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required.

For more information, please contact:
Spectrum Health Medical Group Heart and Vascular Center
2900 Bradford Street NE
Grand Rapids
(616) 885-5000

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