Electrophysiology Program

Doctors sometimes can treat heart health issues like cardiac arrhythmias without surgery, instead relying on effective drug therapies and other procedures. At Sentara Heart, we have one of the leading electrophysiology (EP) programs in the country, offering complete consultative, diagnostic, and disease management services for patients with heart rhythm disturbances. We also have a number of clinical research opportunities that give patients access to the latest in emerging cardiac care technologies.

The EP program at Sentara Heart utilizes the most advanced technology to produce quality outcomes for simple to highly complex cases. This includes an expanding core of board-certified electrophysiologists and fully functioning EP labs with 3-D mapping systems. The opening EP labs around the system will increase the program’s capacity to diagnose and treat arrhythmias using ablation and device therapies.

Ablation Therapy

In 2015, Sentara Heart electrophysiologists performed more than 774 catheter ablations. This minimally invasive procedure targets areas of the heart causing the arrhythmia.

Advanced ablation therapies for Afib at Sentara Heart include:

  • Cryoablation, an alternative, minimally invasive procedure that can restore normal heart rhythm by disabling the heart cells that create an irregular heartbeat. During this procedure, doctors use a balloon catheter to locate and freeze the heart tissue that triggers an abnormal heartbeat. Using cold, rather than heat, to disable damaged tissue reduces the chances of affecting healthy heart tissue and surrounding structures.
  • Laser balloon therapy, a procedure that provides electrophysiologists with real-time visualization. This tool enables doctors to see whether there are any gaps in the ablation lines, which could increase effectiveness. They also can see when tissue starts to overheat and adjust the power accordingly, which may reduce some complications. This capability is especially important when a patient has complex anatomy.
  • Hybrid AF ablation, a combination of a minimally invasive surgical procedure and catheter ablation performed in tandem by an electrophysiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon. Sentara Heart has the only advanced hybrid EP cardiovascular operating room in the region.

Device Therapy

As one of the busiest electrophysiology programs
in Southeastern Virginia, the sophisticated device therapy program at Sentara Heart performs more than 2,500 procedures each year.

Advanced implantable device therapies for Afib at Sentara Heart include:

  • Pacemakers, devices that continually monitor heart rate and automatically send electrical pulses to control irregular heart rhythms.
  • ICDs, similar to pacemakers, continuously monitor heart rate and provide electrical pulses as needed to restore a normal heart rhythm.
  • Loop recorders, mechanisms that allow for 24/7 monitoring of the heart’s electrical activity as a patient goes about daily life. Constant monitoring helps to capture and identify abnormal heart rhythms as they occur.