Offering Leading-Edge Heart Rhythm Monitoring and Treatment

The highly-skilled heart team at Skagit Regional Health Heart and Vascular Institute has years of experience and knowledge to help patients with any heart rhythm issues, called arrhythmias. These are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, meaning that the heart beats too fast, too slow or with an irregular pattern. Most arrhythmias are the result of problems in the electrical system of the heart. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. At least 2.7 million people in the U.S. live with AFib today, according to the American Heart Association.

Broad Experience in Treating Arrhythmias

Our team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained cardiologists, electrophysiologists, physician assistants and registered nurses who collaborate to provide comprehensive arrhythmia services at our locations and remotely. Our combined electrophysiology experience, using a range of diagnostic tests and advanced treatments, provides expert heart rhythm care for the patients we serve across Skagit, Island and north Snohomish counties.

High-Tech Procedures Diagnose Arrhythmias

heart-heart-rhythmTo diagnose an arrhythmia and properly treat heart rhythm conditions and diseases, our electrophysiology team performs a range of tests for a thorough assessment. Common tests and diagnostic tools used for heart rhythm issues include:

  • Echocardiogram (Echo): A diagnostic test that uses an ultrasound probe with sound waves to produce images of the heart. The images show the shape, texture and movement of the valves and measure the size of the heart and its chambers. The echo also assesses heart function, a very important determinant of survival after a heart attack.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): A diagnostic test, an ECG records electrical currents to detect abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Electrophysiologic testing (EP study): This test records the electrical activity and pathways of the heart to determine what is causing an irregular heartbeat.
  • Esophageal electrophysiologic procedure: This procedure is used to detect cardiac arrhythmias by placing a tube into the nostril and down into the esophagus. Because the tube is much closer to the heart, an EKG reading from this area is much more accurate.
  • Holter monitor: This small device is worn continuously so your heart rhythm can be monitored over a 24-hour period. With continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring, this diagnostic test can record any interruptions in electrical currents and detect abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Tilt-table test: With this test, the patient is strapped to a tilt table lying flat and then tilted or suspended completely or almost completely upright (as if standing). Any symptoms, blood pressure changes, pulse irregularities, electrocardiogram results and sometimes blood oxygen saturation are recorded during the test.

Remote Systems Keep Patients Out of the Hospital

Once an arrhythmia diagnosis is made, our skilled team treats the heart rhythm issue using medicines, surgery or the latest implantable devices. We are able to use advanced technology to carefully monitor the device that has been implanted through a robust system. Our Heart and Vascular Institute has the tools and knowledge to keep track of patients from a distance and treat them even before they have symptoms. Using the most advanced technology, we can detect signals for heart issues even before a patient feels symptoms. In this way, we can help keep patients out of the hospital.

Implantable medical devices that detect and control heart rhythm problems include:

  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD): A device that has wires that are implanted into the heart tissue and can deliver electrical shocks, detect the rhythm of the heart and sometimes "pace" the heart's rhythm.
  • Leadless pacemaker: A small implantable device that sends electrical pulses to the heart whenever it senses that the heartbeat is too slow. This device is placed directly in the heart without insulated wires or leads.
  • Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a small device that's placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms. Powered by batteries, this device uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.
  • Subcutaneous ICD: The subcutaneous (under the skin) implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (S-ICD) is used for people who are at risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

For More Information About Heart Rhythm Services

If you or a loved one are experiencing heart rhythm issues, please contact one of our heart team at Skagit Regional Health Heart and Vascular Institute. We provide convenient locations across Skagit, Island and north Snohomish counties.