Cardiac Electrophysiology

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Electrophysiology – referred to as EP – is a branch of cardiology that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythms. You may need an EP study:

  • To determine the cause of an abnormal heart rhythm
  • To locate the site of origin of an abnormal heart rhythm
  • To decide the best treatment for an abnormal heart rhythm

These studies look at the electrical activity of your heart. They are useful as screening tests for detection and diagnosis. Electrocardiography is useful in evaluating if there is any heart damage, cardiac rhythm disorders, metabolic abnormalities and enlargement of the heart muscle.

UMC Electrophysiology Program

Our highly experienced, specialized team diagnoses and treats patients throughout the West Texas and New Mexico region with complex arrhythmias and structural heart disease at UMC Health System.

We treat a variety of common and rare arrhythmia problems, from palpitations and syncope to ventricular tachycardia and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. We take pride in our high volume of cardiac devices including pacemakers, defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization therapy. We also focus on lead management and device extraction whereby we use specialized equipment and techniques to remove implanted cardiac device systems.

At UMC, we offer a comprehensive ablation program specializing in both atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia ablations, among others. We are among a highly select group of physicians in West Texas who specialize in providing ablation therapy with minimal use of radiation in order protect you from harmful X-ray energy. In many cases, we can cure arrhythmias with ablation, while in other cases we aim to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Comprehensive Atrial Fibrillation Program

We are proud to provide the most comprehensive atrial fibrillation program in West Texas. Our program focuses on providing the most advanced treatment for atrial fibrillation management that includes: complex ablation, Watchman Device implantation for stroke prevention, and a rehabilitation program.

This care is: backed by research, designed with you in mind and delivered by a team made up of a wide-range of specialists—from sleep specialists to Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. Our goal at the end of this program is to reverse atrial fibrillation through healthy lifestyle changes you carry with you through the rest of your life.

Your treatment plan is individually tailored based on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Type of atrial fibrillation
  • The presence of associated heart disease, in addition to atrial fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation Rehabilitation Program

Through our partnership, we now offer a rehabilitation program for AFib patients who have undergone treatment at UMC. During this one-year program, we focus on risk factor management by educating, engaging and empowering patients.

What to expect

> 30 days after ablation: we host a luncheon with you to meet your care team made up of your Electrophysiologist, Internist, Cardiac Rehab specialist and a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist.
> 6 weeks after ablation: cardiac rehab face-to-face visit, action plan developed and communicated
> 3 months after ablation: continuous cardiac rehab, second in-person visit follow-up with labs
> 9 months after ablation: third in-person visit, lifestyle modifications reinforced
>In between each in-person follow-up your care team will be calling you to check on how you’re doing.

 

WATCHMAN FLX™ Device

UMC is the first hospital in the region to offer the next-generation WATCHMAN FLX™ device to patients with atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm).

This procedure aligns with UMC's commitment to keeping the community safe while ensuring high-quality, technologically-advanced care: it allows us to provide comprehensive atrial fibrillation care at UMC Heart Center, along with complex ablation procedures. The next-generation device has a new design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes. It offers select patients with atrial fibrillation an alternative to blood thinners to prevent a potentially life-threatening stroke.

The WATCHMAN FLX™ is implanted in the heart in a one-time procedure through a catheter, similar to a standard stent procedure. The device closes off the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner.

Heart patients should contact their cardiologist or Primary Care Provider to see if they are a candidate for the WATCHMAN FLX ™.

Comprehensive Device Management Program

At UMC we implant all pacemakers including the headless pacemaker, remote monitoring and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) Implantation. We also have a lead-extraction program.

Pacemakers and ICDs deliver energy to the heart through thin, flexible wires called leads. When these leads are not working properly – because of infection, damage, or surrounding scar tissue – they need to be removed.

Pacemaker and ICD leads that have been in place for many years can become very attached to the heart and blood vessel walls, making them difficult to remove. We are skilled at using a minimally invasive procedure called laser-lead extraction to cut through scar tissue surrounding the lead and allow it to be easily removed. Only a small number of medical centers offer this complex surgery. UMC does more each year than any other facility in the region. We also do this surgery in a “hybrid” operating room, with both state-of-the-art imaging equipment and everything necessary for open heart surgery. Having two physicians — a cardiac electrophysiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon — perform the surgery together enhances patients’ safety enormously.

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