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St. John's in Joplin offers electrophysiology services

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St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin announced an addition to its full line of patient care services at the Center for Heart Care.

Electrophysiology services are now available to help patients who experience arrythmias or irregular heart beats, according to a release from the medical center. Electrophysiology is the branch of cardiology that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the heart's electrical system or rhythm disturbances.

St. John's has two cardiac electrophysiologists on its medical staff, Ronald Haberman, MD and Demo Klonis, MD. Both physicians joined the staff in January of this year.

"Electrophysiology has given us the diagnostic tool that helps patients who may have had a heart palpitation for years," Klonis said. "With this type of information, patients can receive treatments that will drastically improve their quality of life."

Rhythm disturbances can affect people of all ages, and one of the most common disturbances is passing out or fainting spells. In some patients, these fainting spells are often caused by a heart beat that is too slow. In other patients, it can be caused by a racing heart or a short circuit in the heart's electrical system.

"With so many causes of rhythm irregularities, specialized testing is often needed to determine the cause," Haberman said.

Patients who experience irregular heartbeat may undergo an electrophysiology study to determine the exact location of the arrhythmia. The study is done with precise equipment by an electrophysiologist.

By inserting two or more catheters into the heart through leg veins, the electrophysiologist gathers specific information to analyze for the diagnosis. These catheters record the impulses from inside the heart and help speed the heart to start the suspected abnormal rhythm.

"By having a recording of the arrhythmia, we are able to study carefully and precisely the heart's patterns," Haberman said. "With this information, we can then determine the best procedure to help the patient."

Several options are available for treating abnormally rapid heart rhythms. If the patient has racing heart or the heart has a short circuit, the patient may receive a catheter ablation.

Catheter ablation is a nonsurgical technique that destroys(ablates or cauterizes with a small catheter) part of the abnormal electrical pathway that is causing the arrhythmia. By localizing the specific problem area, this procedure leaves the rest of the heart and heart muscle intact.

Catheter ablation is a relatively low-risk procedure that can replace the need for surgery and medications in most instances. Catheter ablation may permanently cure the problem, whether the patient has been experiencing it for a short period or for years.

Antiarrhythmic medications or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a device that is implanted inside the body to deliver an electric shock when necessary to restore normal heart rhythm, are other treatment options.

Patients undergoing an electrophysiology study are monitored for approximately four hours after the procedure. Often, the patient goes home the same day, according to the release.

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