Fixing Fast and Abnormal Heartbeats
A cardiology subspecialty focuses on fast and abnormal heartbeats
Cardiologist Jeffrey Gordon, MD, is fascinated with electrical circuits. As a physics major at Georgetown University, he studied electromagnetism. As a homeowner, he has rewired circuits to make his house “smart.” Now as one of the newest cardiologists at LVPG Cardiology, he brings an expertise in understanding electrical circuitry of the heart.
“I’m an electrophysiologist, a specialist in heart rhythms. My interest is in complex arrhythmias and ablation of harmful heart rhythms,” Gordon says. He has a special focus on ventricular tachycardia, a fast heart rate originating from the heart’s ventricles, the main pumping chambers of the heart.
“A normal heart rhythm comes from the top of the heart and spreads to the bottom chambers to make a nice coordinated contraction of the heart,” he says. “When a heart rhythm originates from a different part of the heart, it is an arrhythmia.”
When you see people on TV getting shocked for unstable rhythms, Gordon says they are experiencing ventricular tachycardia. “It can be a life-threatening problem.”
What’s the ‘why’
Gordon specializes in finding out the “why” behind complex heart arrhythmias, like ventricular tachycardia.
If a heart beats too fast or off rhythm, he says, “it makes the heart unable to perform its main function of pumping blood and providing oxygen to the rest of the body.”
Gordon uses a comprehensive treatment approach for ventricular tachycardia, including a specialized interventional procedure called cardiac ablation. Think of it as rewiring or rerouting of the heart’s electrical circuits so it can return to a normal heartbeat.
How cardiac ablation works
While under conscious sedation, Gordon threads catheters through the veins and arteries of the body into the heart itself. “Then using electrical signals and computer programs, we map the electrical circuits to understand the mechanism of the ventricular tachycardia and locate the faulty circuits causing the arrhythmia to happen,” he says.
“Using radiofrequency energy, we create small burns in the heart to disrupt or break the faulty circuits and make them conduct normally again.”
The procedure is safe and effective. “After a cardiac ablation, many patients will never have these arrhythmias again,” Gordon says.