Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, part of Baptist Health Heart & Vascular Care, has opened an arrhythmia center, according to physicians at Baptist Health. The Center, the first of its kind in South Florida and one of just a few in the United States, provides advanced, multidisciplinary care for people with arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AFib) and ventricular tachycardia.
Jonathan Fialkow, M.D., chief population health officer for Baptist Health and chief of cardiology and deputy director of Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute
“Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats that occur when the electrical impulse that precedes the heartbeat is disrupted in some way,” says Jonathan Fialkow, M.D., chief population health officer for Baptist Health and chief of cardiology and deputy director of Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, the region’s largest and most comprehensive center for heart care. “They can be the result of many things, including intrinsic disease of the electrical system of the heart, infection, medications, heart failure or heart attack. Some people are born with a heart defect that leads to arrhythmia, others develop it suddenly or as they age.”
Arrhythmias affect an estimated 18 million people in the U.S. alone. However, accessing care can be a complicated and time-consuming process. In some cases, these barriers prevent people from accessing timely care.
An arrhythmia often causes palpitations, dizziness, fatigue and shortness of breath, although some patients have few symptoms. For many, however, the condition diminishes quality of life, requiring long-term treatment with heart rhythm medications and blood thinners. It can also lead to cardiac arrest and death. And while many people think of irregular heartbeats as a problem of the elderly, a recent study showed that AFib deaths in younger adults are also on the rise.
Depending on the type and severity of arrhythmia, it may be a situation that is monitored or a case where immediate treatment is needed. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to care for patients with arrhythmias is that most cardiovascular programs don’t offer a full range of services, leaving patients frustrated as they attempt to navigate their way to better health.
“Typically, a primary care physician will diagnose a heart arrhythmia. From there, patients meet with a cardiologist or electrophysiologist, who usually recommends ablation to destroy cells causing irregular heartbeats. Then the patient meets with an ablation specialist who may then recommend a surgical procedure,” says Dr. Fialkow. “As a result, patients move from place to place and provider to provider. This process can be challenging.”
The Institute’s Arrhythmia Center offers a new approach to care, bringing together under one roof all the care such patients need. “We regularly develop innovative procedures and new ways to deliver care,” says Joseph T. McGinn, M.D., chief of cardiac surgery and deputy director at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. “With this new center, we wanted to create something all-encompassing. All patients have to do is walk through the door of our clinic, and we handle the nuts and bolts of their care. Our role includes coordinating with the right specialists. There’s no need for patients to go to multiple locations to receive care.”
Joseph T. McGinn, M.D., chief of cardiac surgery and deputy director at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute
The Arrhythmia Center opens at an important time, according to Dr. McGinn, who says that patients today have different expectations for care as they look for a seamless experience to make an appointment and manage their medical needs. The Center aims to improve their experience by having multidisciplinary, arrhythmia care all in one place.
“Patients focus more on quality of life than longevity,” says Dr. McGinn. “Improving quality of life includes making it easier to access care.”
Noting Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute’s dedication to developing the most innovative procedures for treating a range of heart conditions, Dr. Fialkow says that the new Arrhythmia Center provides patients with the highest quality care from a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, advanced practice providers, pharmacists and others.
“Having a group of medical professionals who can provide a multi-level approach to heart care ultimately allows our team to find the most optimal treatment plan for any individual patient,” says Dr. Fialkow. “The Arrhythmia Center fills a need in the community and allows us to continue providing world-class heart treatment here in South Florida.”