I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Hafiza Khan, Electrophysiologist at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas to discuss ventricular arrhythmias which affects millions (of all ages) and can lead to sudden cardiac death if left untreated.
Candace Rose: What are ventricular arrhythmias and what makes them so dangerous?
Dr. Hafiza Khan: "Ventricular arrhythmias are abnormal erratic and rapid heartbeats that come from the bottom of the heart and in extreme conditions they can lead to something called sudden cardiac death."
CR: What are some of the symptoms?
HK: "So, some people feel palpitations, irregular beats and skipped beats, other patients may black out or faint but unfortunately for many patients the first symptom is catastrophic and it is the sudden cardiac death event, there's no pain or anything that proceeds it. So, the key is to prevent sudden cardiac death by screening patients who are at high risk for it and implanting a device called a defibrillator."
CR: Who is at high risk and does it affect people at any age?
HK: "Yes, it can affect anybody. So when you hear of young student athletes who drop dead on the playing field, in those kids it's typically a genetic condition that they've inherited but in adults and especially older adults it's usually because some heart damage has happened- either a heart attack or an enlargement of the heart or heart failure."
CR: Can it be treated?
HK: "Yes, so in milder conditions we use medications but for patients who have heart damage or who are at risk for sudden cardiac death as I mentioned, we install these units called defibrillators and the unit goes underneath the skin with wires to the heart and it gives an electrical impulse to reset the heart if the patient were to experience a lethal arrhythmia."
CR: Why is a Protecta portfolio such a medical breakthrough?
HK: "Sure, well we've had defibrillators now for 30 years and they are 98% effective in saving peoples lives but unfortunately 20% of patients will have the defibrillator fire or shock a patient when it doesn't need to because it's been fooled by something in the environment or the patient exercising, so the Protecta has a sense of 6 smart shock technology features that allows it to distinguish between a lethal event where it needs to fire and a non-lethal event where it doesn't need to. So the key is it is accurate in saving someones life and yet it's not going to go off at the wrong time, so it gives patients confidence to lead their lives to the fullest."
Protecta – Image via DMCCVI
CR: Do you have any additional information you'd like to share?
HK: "Well, for people who want more information about sudden cardiac death I would refer them to the American Heart Association website and if you want more information about the Protecta then I would go to the website of the manufacturer which is Medtronic."