Matters of the heart

This story was originally published in the Fall 2021 edition of Providence Health Matters.


In this article:

  • A Providence patient gets a new lease on life with an advanced heart procedure.

  • The EP lab at Providence St. Mary is finding ways to treat patients with heart rhythm disorders.

  • Dr. Mandapti discusses new treatments that offer hope to people with heart conditions.

A primary goal of Providence Health System is to consistently offer the latest technology and procedures to its patients. Thanks to the hospital’s fundraising foundation, that commitment has been fulfilled once again with the new electrophysiology (EP) lab. The venture is a partnership between Providence St. Mary and Loma Linda University Medical Center. Cardiac electrophysiologists Ravi Mandapati, MD, and Rahul Bhardwaj, MD, were the first doctors to perform catheter ablation procedures in the new lab, using its state-of-the-art equipment.

The main use of the EP lab will be to treat patients with heart rhythm problems that can arise from both the upper and lower chambers of the heart. These include supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial fibrillation (afib for short), and ventricular arrhythmias that originate from the lower chambers. Afib is a heart rhythm condition that most often leads to hospitalizations. “A large majority of ablation procedures at St. Mary will be for patients with afib. We also will perform ablations on patients with other heart rhythm problems,” says Dr. Mandapati. “During the ablation procedure, we treat the problematic areas in order to stop or prevent the irregularity. Catheter ablations for afib are 70% to 80% effective and for SVT are 98% effective. Some patients may need an additional procedure in the event of recurrence.”

A problem solved after two decades of pain

In August, 47-year-old Christian Lepe was having frequent episodes of rapid heartbeats and dizziness. He made several trips to the ER, where the medicine was administered to stop his arrhythmia. Lepe says his symptoms actually started nearly 20 years ago, but his condition was never properly diagnosed. A friend finally recommended he see Venkat Devineni, MD, a cardiologist at Providence St. Mary. It was Dr. Devineni who explained to Lepe he had SVT and advised him that Dr. Mandapati would be the best choice to do an ablation.

“The way Dr. Mandapati explained the procedure and reassured me of the results gave me the ultimate confidence to proceed,” says Lepe. “After all, it was my heart that he was going to be poking around. I only have one. His confidence and reassurance were awesome.” “His options at that point,” says Dr. Mandapati, “were basically lifelong medications that may or may not work and can potentially have side effects versus a procedure that could cure the problem.

Following the success of the operation, he now has just a 2% chance of his SVT recurring.” Lepe is extremely pleased with the result. He was discharged the same day and experienced very little discomfort. “There was not much of a slowdown, really. The next day I was walking the beach with my family without any complications,” says Lepe. He jokes, “I honestly believed the doctor lied to me and simply told me I had a procedure. I did not feel like I had just had a procedure done.”

More services on the horizon

Doctors at the EP lab currently are performing two procedures daily, each lasting a couple of hours. The goal, especially amid the COVID pandemic, is to send the patients home the same day. “In the future, we also will perform the Watchman procedure. That involves catheter-based placement of a device in the left upper chamber to protect patients against stroke,” says Dr. Mandapati.

In addition to the advanced technology, the big benefit to the High Desert communities is that these procedures are now being performed locally, so patients don’t have to drive to other facilities. Dr. Mandapati stresses, “The most important thing for patients with heart rhythm problems to know is that we are providing high-quality, complex care right here in the community.” Lepe considers himself lucky and is very grateful for these services and the staff at Providence St. Mary. “The entire experience was truly a blessing. But the biggest benefit? I am still here with my family.”


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Related resources

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.




About the Author

The Providence Heart & Vascular Team is committed to bringing you many years of expertise and experience to help you understand how to prevent, treat and recover from cardiovascular diseases and conditions. From tips to eating better to exercise and everything in between, our clinical experts know how to help you help your heart.

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