Tag Archives: Lexington Cardiology

Detecting Abnormal Heartbeats with Your Apple Watch

Patients have a new tool to help identify a type of abnormal heart rhythm. The newly released Apple Watch Series 4 enables users to take an electrocardiogram (EKG) from their wrist to check for atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the device for this purpose late last year. Since then, we’ve heard a lot of questions from patients about it. Christopher P. Rowley, MD, electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology, had some answers.

Photo Courtesy: Apple

Q: What is atrial fibrillation?
A: Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the top part of the heart quivers instead of beating effectively. The danger is that blood there could become stagnant and clot, then leave the heart and cause a life-threatening stroke or embolism.

Q: How does the new Apple Watch detect atrial fibrillation?
A: The Apple Watch uses a unique method where sensors will allow users to record a heart rhythm. The watch can send them a notification if it detects an irregular rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation. Previous versions of the Apple Watch have detected for heart rate, too.

Dr. Christopher Rowley

Q: What does this new technology mean for patient?
A: The idea of having patients monitor heart rhythms at home is not new. We often give patients monitors attached to their chest with stickers or a patch to wear at home. They record their heart rhythm when they’re having symptoms. Then, we correlate the symptoms with the results from the monitor.

The watch aims to do the same thing. It will be worn most of the day. It may even detect an abnormal heart rhythm the patient doesn’t know about. It means we’re empowering consumers to present data to their doctor rather than just starting to figure out a diagnosis during a visit.

Q: What should you do if your watch detects an abnormal rhythm?
A: Call your doctor. It’s also important to point out that the tool is not intended for people who have already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or as a substitute for seeing your doctor on a regular basis.

Q: Will it detect all abnormal heart rhythms?
A: No. The watch only checks for atrial fibrillation.

Q: How do you treat atrial fibrillation?
A: The treatment is different for each patient. It ranges from simple to complex medications, to an ablation where we go into the heart to identify the bad electrical signals and make them go away.

Striking Back Against Heart Disease

On Friday nights, you can bet on finding Martha Gregg at the Gamecock Lanes bowling alley in Sumter.

She bowls there every week with her son and daughter and participates in bowling tournaments. Her personal best is a 195.

She’s back in the game after a serious setback in 2014.

During that time, the 68-year-old noticed she was getting very tired.

Martha Gregg bowling in Sumter

“I would get so tired when walking. I couldn’t stand up in church, either. I couldn’t bake. I couldn’t lift my clothes. I was so tired and out of breath.”

It was so bad that she fell asleep at work one night.

The fatigue affected her bowling, too.

“I was too tired to bowl,” she said. “I’d bowl one game and couldn’t finish it. My son would say, ‘Mom, just sit down.’”

Tests at Lexington Medical Center revealed something was wrong with Martha’s aortic valve, the heart valve that allows oxygenated blood back into the body.

Doctors referred her to Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia for further testing.

“They said the valve was not pumping enough blood through my body to keep me going full force. The valve was slowing me down,” she said. “They said it needed to be replaced. That scared me.”

But that June, instead of traditional, open heart surgery, Martha underwent transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR, at Lexington Medical Center. This state-of-the-art cardiovascular technology allows doctors to replace the aortic valve without open heart surgery.

TAVR is considered the most significant advancement in cardiology since coronary angioplasty.

Currently, TAVR is for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are high-risk candidates for open heart surgery because of their age, history of heart disease or other health issues.

In TAVR, a catheter helps to deploy a new aortic valve over the patient’s diseased aortic valve without open heart surgery.

Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a narrowed aortic valve that does not allow blood to flow efficiently. As the heart works harder to pump enough blood through the smaller opening in the valve, the heart eventually becomes weak. Over time, it can lead to life-threatening heart problems.

To replace the diseased aortic valve with TAVR, the new aortic valve is compressed into a catheter. Doctors thread the catheter through the body to the inside of the diseased aortic valve. Then, they deploy the new valve inside the diseased aortic valve, which becomes the anchor for the new valve. The new valve is functional immediately and normal blood flow is restored.

With this minimally invasive technique, doctors deployed the new aortic valve through just a small puncture in the femoral artery in the leg.

“After a few days in the hospital, I noticed that I could walk more,” Martha said. “I thought, ‘I don’t feel tired.’ I couldn’t do that before without stopping and resting.”

Two months later, she was back at the bowling alley impressing the competition at tournaments again.

And she’s thankful to the Lexington Medical Center team that fixed her up.

“I feel like I can run a marathon now. It’s really good. I can kick my heels up, too.”

Hey Girlfriends! Register for Heart and Sole

On your mark, get set, go! Join us for the Lexington Medical Center Heart and Sole Women’s Five Miler on Saturday, April 21 in downtown Columbia. This women-only event features a five-mile run, a five-mile walk and a three-mile-walk. In its 17th year, Heart and Sole is designed to celebrate women and the power of a healthy lifestyle, and to raise awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. With a strong commitment to a comprehensive cardiovascular program at hospital, Lexington Medical Center is pleased to be the title sponsor.

The start line is at Arsenal Hill on Laurel Street. The opening ceremony is at 7:30 a.m; the 5-mile run and walk begin at 8:00 a.m; and the 3-mile walk starts at 8:05 a.m. The finish line is at the bottom of Finlay Park on Taylor Street. Each woman will receive a red rose and a finisher’s medal as she crosses the finish line. A post-event celebration and expo featuring Lexington Medical Center clinicians as well as WIS-TV news anchors Dawndy Mercer-Plank, Judi Gatson and other WIS-TV personalities will take place in Finlay Park until 10:30 a.m.

“We’re proud to host the Heart and Sole Women’s Five Miler because it not only encourages physical activity a healthy lifestyle, it also calls attention to the issue of heart disease — the biggest health threat women face today,” said Dr. Amy Epps, cardiologist with Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

Launched by the Carolina Marathon Association in 2002, the Lexington Medical Center Heart and Sole Women’s Five Miler is South Carolina’s first women-only road race. It has grown from fewer than 400 female participants in its first year to more than 1,300 today. Sponsored in conjunction with WIS-TV, the race offers women of all athletic abilities the opportunity to participate in a comforting, supportive environment. Elite athletes, as well as first-timers, enjoy the unique event.

Women who have participated in Heart and Sole in previous years will recognize changes in the course this year. The growth of Columbia’s Soda City Market on Main Street has made the downtown area on Saturday mornings busier than ever before. As a result, the course will now go down Marion Street, incorporate historic sections of the city and eliminate the Gervais Street hill. These changes will create a flatter, faster course. Additionally, the race will begin 30 minutes earlier than previous years.

For more information, including a course map, packet pick-up, race day and awards information, and to register, visit HeartAndSolerun.com or HeartAndSoleWalk.com.

We hope to see you at the start line!