Get Rhythm, Not the Blues

Get Rhythm, Not the Blues

Get Rhythm, Not the Blues

Abnormal heart rhythms can affect your health. Do you know the signs?

Each beat of your heart begins with a series of electrical impulses. These signals tell the heart muscle when to contract and when to relax, pushing blood into your arteries and keeping you alive.

When signals are disrupted or abnormal, an arrhythmia — an issue with the rhythm of your heart that affects its ability to efficiently pump blood — can result. An arrhythmia can cause your heart to beat too fast or too slow, skip beats, or take additional beats.

Increasing Your Risk for Stroke

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of arrhythmia that increases a person’s risk for stroke. Individuals with AFib may notice a fluttering in the chest and/or fatigue, although many do not experience symptoms.

“Our primary goal when treating AFib is preventing stroke,” says Sameh Lamiy, MD, electrophysiologist with KentuckyOne Health Cardiology Associates in Lexington. “AFib symptoms may be uncomfortable, but having a stroke can be crippling. We use medications to control heart rhythm and rate, and blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.”

Getting Back on Beat

If medications don’t manage an arrhythmia effectively, physicians may recommend a procedure, such as a pacemaker implantation (device to maintain heart rate) or ablation (use of heat or cold to destroy the area causing the heart rhythm problem). Regardless of the problem, the first step is to seek medical advice.

“Heart rhythm disorders can range from benign conditions to life-threatening problems,” said Rakesh Gopinathannair, MD, director of cardiac electrophysiology at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. “If you have symptoms, have a heart rhythm specialist take a look. Simple tests can figure out if we need to intervene.”

Watch the video below to learn more about treating AFib.

Alternative to Blood Thinners for Patients with AFib

Now available at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, the WATCHMAN™ device may eliminate the need for long-term use of blood thinners for some patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AFib).

“This is a therapy revolution for stroke prevention in these patients,” said Dr. Gopinathannair. “If you have been told you need to take blood thinners for the rest of your life because of AFib, this could be a great alternative.”

Call Jewish Hospital Heart Rhythm Care at 844.297.8981 to find out more information about the WATCHMAN procedure.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of One Health magazine. Receive more health and wellness news and information by signing up for your free subscription to One Health.

Say Goodbye to Blood Thinners

Goodbye to Blood Thinners

Say goodbye to blood thinners

A small umbrella shaped device is revolutionizing stroke prevention therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation.

The WATCHMAN™ device is now available at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, which may eliminate long-term use of blood thinners for some patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AFib).

“This is a therapy revolution for stroke prevention in these patients,” said Rakesh Gopinathannair, MD, MA, FHRS, director of cardiac electrophysiology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and Jewish Hospital. “If you have been told you need to take blood thinners for the rest of your life because you have AFib and you have concerns about doing so, this is a great alternative.”

How It Works

Shaped like a small umbrella, the WATCHMAN implant (pictured below) is designed to catch blood clots that patients with AFib may develop. A highly trained cardiac electrophysiologist or interventional cardiologist inserts the implant, which is roughly the size of a quarter, using a minimally invasive procedure. The physician places a large IV into the femoral vein in the groin and threads the WATCHMAN device through a catheter until it reaches the upper left chamber of the heart.

Once in place, the device is well-positioned to catch clots that may form in the left atrial appendage, thus preventing these clots from breaking loose and traveling to the brain or lungs and causing a stroke.

The procedure to place the WATCHMAN is performed under general anesthesia, and typically takes between one and two hours. Patients typically stay in the hospital for just one day and then return home.

Easing Off Medication

Following the procedure, doctors will prescribe six weeks of a blood thinner, but that is only temporary.

“Usually within four-and-a-half months, the patient can be off all blood thinners — possibly for the rest of his or her life,” Dr. Gopinathannair said. “If you are seeking an alternative to blood-thinning medications, talk with your health care provider about this option.”

If you have AFib and are on blood thinners, you might be a candidate for WATCHMAN. To reach the Jewish Hospital WATCHMAN Team, call 844.206.3936.

“The WATCHMAN™ will be a game changer in how we prevent strokes in patients with nonvalvular AFib. Jewish Hospital offers patients in the region a great opportunity to try this option, and we have a great team in place with all of the expertise necessary to get this done.”

Rakesh Gopinathannair, MD, MA, FHRS

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of One Health Magazine. For the latest news on KentuckyOne Health, visit our News Center and read more about the WATCHMAN procedure.