Expert diagnosis and treatment for cardiac arrhythmias in Kansas City

A racing heart, a skipped beat or a flutter in your chest can all be signs of an abnormal heart rhythm. At HCA Midwest Health, our cardiac care team includes board-certified electrophysiologists—doctors with specialty expertise in the heart's electrical activity. Our hospitals offer the latest in cardiac diagnostic technology to track heart arrhythmias as they occur, which helps our doctors form accurate diagnoses and develop comprehensive treatment plans that extend to managing your long-term health.

Our hospital network is home to the Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute (KCHRI), a part of the HCA Midwest Health Heart and Vascular Institute. This addition to our robust cardiovascular program ensures our patients have access to experts in diagnosing and treating irregular heart rhythms.

If you would like more information about our services for heart arrhythmias, you can call us at (816) 823-0668.

High-quality care for heart arrhythmias

Between the specialists at our hospitals and our partnership with the KCHRI, our patients benefit from expertise in all areas of cardiac care. When caring for patients with heart arrhythmias, we provide:

  • A compassionate and patient-centered care philosophy—Our heart specialists don’t just treat heart arrhythmias, they examine each patient's health as a whole. With a thorough analysis of each patient's health, we devise a comprehensive treatment plan that not only controls the arrhythmia but addresses other underlying problems, such as sleep apnea. We may even recommend certain lifestyle changes or activities, such as yoga therapy.
  • World-renowned physicians—Our electrophysiologists are prominent clinical researchers that teach other EP physicians about the latest findings, technologies and techniques.
  • A team approach—Our team works as a whole, with electrophysiologists collaborating with heart surgeons, interventional cardiologists, heart failure cardiologists and imaging cardiologists on treatment plans to diagnose and treat even the most complex arrhythmias.
  • Cutting-edge technology and care—Our specialists are guided by the latest research in cardiac arrhythmia care, which allows us to provide innovative treatment and the best possible outcomes for our patients.
  • Easy access to top-quality heart care—Our patients have access to advanced arrhythmia care at multiple clinics and hospital locations throughout the Kansas City region. This allows us to provide convenient care to more patients who may otherwise have to travel long distances for specialized care.

HCA Midwest Health also offers dedicated pediatric arrhythmia care at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Types of arrhythmias we treat

Our cardiac specialists diagnose and treat all types of heart arrhythmias, whether they develop later in life or result from an inherited condition. We care for patients with heart rhythm-related conditions like:

  • Adult congenital heart disease arrhythmias—These arrhythmias are related to pre-existing cardiac conditions at birth.
  • Arrhythmic myocarditis—These are irregular heartbeats occurring in patients with myocarditis (inflammation of the heart wall).
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib)—The upper chambers of the heart beat in a different rhythm than the lower chambers, causing an irregular heartbeat—most commonly too fast.
  • Atrial flutter—A fluttering sensation occurs in the chest, caused by an interruption of the heart's electrical system within the atrium.
  • Bradycardia—The heart rate is slower than normal (60 beats per minute or less).
    • Sinus node dysfunction
    • Heart block
  • Inherited cardiac arrhythmias—These arrhythmias are caused by genetic abnormalities that can be passed down from family member to family member.
    • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)
    • Brugada syndrome
    • Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT)
    • Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM)
    • Long QT syndrome (LQTS)
  • Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)—These are extra heartbeats occurring in the lower heart chambers that disrupt the normal heart rhythm.
  • Supraventricular tachycardia—The heart rate is too fast due to heartbeats originating in the upper chambers of the heart.
    • Atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia (AVNRT)
    • Atrioventricular reentry tachycardia (AVRT)
    • Atrial tachycardia (AT)
    • Inappropriate sinus node tachycardia (IAST)
    • Junctional ectopic tachycardia
  • Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)—This is a loss of heart function, where the heart abruptly stops, due to a disturbance in its electrical system.
  • Syncope—Dizziness and/or fainting, a symptom of many arrhythmias, that occurs due to a lack of oxygenated blood circulating to the brain.
  • Ventricular tachycardia (VT)—Abnormal electrical signals in the bottom chambers of the heart cause it to beat too fast and out of synchronization.

Arrhythmia testing

HCA Midwest offers the following advanced cardiac tests for diagnosing irregular heartbeats and assessing how well treatments are working:

  • Cardiac positron emission tomography (PET) scan—A nuclear imaging test that measures inflammation in the heart muscle. It is an important tool in diagnosing and treating various arrhythmias.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)—A quick, painless test used to measure the heart’s electrical activity and determine whether it's overworked, fast, slow or irregular.
  • Exercise stress test—This test is used to see how the heart functions during physical activity. If a patient can't exercise, medication can simulate the effects of exercise on the heart.
  • Holter monitoring—A wearable device used to continuously record the heart’s activity over time. Because irregular heart rhythms and symptoms can come and go, it can be hard to diagnose certain arrhythmias during specific times, like a visit to the doctor's office. This allows an electrophysiologist to assess how your heart acts during everyday activities and record irregularities as they occur.
  • Implantable loop monitor—A type of cardiac event monitor placed under the skin on the chest. It continuously monitors the heart rhythm and can help diagnose issues that occur sporadically and are accompanied by severe symptoms.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—An imaging study of the heart that helps our electrophysiologists understand the heart's structural details.
  • Tilt table testing—This test is used to see how the heart reacts to a change in position. If a patient has unexplained fainting episodes (syncope), this test may be ordered to help identify the cause.

Treatment for cardiac arrhythmias

We are committed to helping our patients with abnormal heart rhythms achieve longer, happier and healthier lives while managing their arrhythmias. We provide renowned cardiac arrhythmia care by staying on the forefront of cardiovascular technology and clinical research, which allows us to provide an array of treatment options, such as:

Cardioversion

This is an outpatient procedure where an electric shock or medication is administered to correct an abnormally fast heart rate (tachycardia). The goal is to reestablish a normal heart rhythm.

Implantable electronic devices

Some patients may undergo a procedure to insert an electronic device within the chest. A device may help control the heartbeat and some can even identify and stop arrhythmias when the heart rhythm becomes dangerous. We offer pacemaker and defibrillator implantations.

Pacemaker

A pacemaker is a medical device that helps the heart maintain a normal rhythm and efficiently pump blood throughout the body. They are commonly used when treating slow heart rates (bradycardia) or irregular heart rates.

During the procedure to implant a permanent pacemaker, the doctor will make a small incision beneath the collarbone. Then lead wires, designed to monitor the heart's electrical activity, will be guided through the blood vessels until they reach the heart. Once in place, the wires will be connected to the pacemaker generator, which is then placed just below the collarbone. The number of lead wires used is dependent upon each patient's individual condition.

There are many options when it comes to pacemaker implantation, we offer:

  • Dual-chamber pacemakers (two leads)
  • His bundle pacing (HBP) (emergency therapy for cardiac resynchronization)
  • Lead extraction (remove one or more leads)
  • Leadless pacemaker (electronic capsule device)
  • Single-chamber pacemakers (one lead)
  • Three-chamber pacemakers (three leads)

Pacemaker implantation procedures last anywhere from one to three hours and usually require an overnight hospital stay for monitoring. After discharge, patients will have their pacemakers checked on a regular basis, about every three months. The generator will need to be replaced about every eight to 10 years.

Pacemaker lead extraction is available at Research Medical Center and Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Defibrillator

A defibrillator is a medical device that can identify and stop an arrhythmia that could cause sudden cardiac arrest. It monitors the heart rate and delivers an electric shock when the heart rhythm becomes dangerous. These are most commonly used for patients with extremely fast or chaotic heartbeats that have not responded to alternative therapies.

There are several defibrillator devices we use for treatment, which include:

  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRTD)
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Life vest defibrillator
  • Subcutaneous ICD

The procedure to implant a defibrillator device takes anywhere from one to three hours to complete. Patients will remain in the hospital overnight for monitoring. Similar to a pacemaker, the defibrillator will be checked every three months to ensure proper function. Defibrillators need replacing about every five to eight years.

Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC)

This minimally invasive procedure uses one of a variety of medical devices to close off the left atrial appendage, an area of the heart where blood can begin to pool and clot. This procedure may be an option for patients with AFib who cannot tolerate long-term blood thinners. It has been shown to reduce the risk for stroke.

There are several medical tools for closing off the left atrial appendage, we use:

  • AtriClip® device used at the bottom of the left atrial appendage to separate it from the left atrium
  • LARIAT™ tool ties off left atrial appendage to keep it closed
  • WATCHMAN™ implantable device to permanently seal off the left atrial appendage

The procedure lasts one to three hours and depends on the tool being used for the procedure. A hospital stay is usually required for monitoring. LAAC closures are offered at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Catheter (heart) ablation

This procedure uses a catheter that is threaded through the blood vessels to the heart. Once in the correct position, the catheter can be used to scar the tissue on the heart that is causing an arrhythmia. It is considered a low-risk, minimally invasive procedure and is used to treat and cure heart arrhythmias, such as AFib, atrial flutter, atrial tachycardia, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia and premature ventricular contractions.

Our doctors use leading-edge technology to prepare for and perform ablation procedures with the best possible results. We use three-dimensional and robotic mapping techniques, which allow for greater accuracy when placing the catheter. Greater accuracy results in decreased procedure times and less radiation exposure.

We use several methods for catheter ablation, including:

  • Cryoablation—extreme cold destroys cells
  • Radiofrequency ablation—heat destroys cells

Some patients may benefit from newer technologies available through clinical research studies.

An ablation procedure lasts anywhere from two to four hours. Most patients return home the following day. Heart ablation is available at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center.

Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute locations

The Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute (KCHRI) is committed to making leading-edge electrophysiology services available and convenient for you and your loved ones, with multiple locations throughout the Greater Kansas City region, including:

  • Electrophysiology services at four HCA Midwest Health hospitals:
    • Centerpoint Medical Center
    • Menorah Medical Center
    • Overland Park Regional Medical Center
    • Research Medical Center
  • Three electrophysiology practice site locations:
    • Independence, MO
    • Kansas City, MO
    • Overland Park, KS
  • Three outreach site locations:
    • Manhattan, KS
    • Salina, KS
    • Topeka, KS