Specialist is ‘an electrician for the heart’

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Good heart health is no small matter. And when a problem arises, it’s critical to receive the best treatment available from an expert.

One place to find these experts is First Coast Heart & Vascular Center, a comprehensive cardiology practice that provides contemporary, evidence-based and compassionate care to patients. Board-certified cardiologists at the center are experienced in several sub-specialties.

One of those experts is Dr. Neil Sanghvi, an electrophysiologist.

“I specialize in heart rhythm disorders, so I’m an electrician for the heart,” he said. “I manage all aspects of heart-rhythm-related problems, which involves managing devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, as well as performing specialized procedures called ablations to help eliminate or manage irregular heartbeats for patients.”

For the most part, Sanghvi practices at two of the center’s nine offices. One at 100 Whetstone Place, St. Augustine, and the other at 351 Town Plaza Ave. Suite 203 in Nocatee.

One area of interest for Sanghvi is improving techniques in atrial fibrillation ablation.

“Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem in the world and probably a big piece of the type of clinical programs I deal with for patients,” he said. “One of the most effective therapies for managing that particular problem is ablation, which is one of those surgical procedures that I perform.”

He called the prevalence of atrial fibrillation cases a “growing epidemic.” Each year increasing numbers of patients are being diagnosed due to a multitude of risk factors. Age is one of these; people are living longer, so it’s not surprising that more of them are developing problems.

Other contributing factors are uncontrolled obesity, hypertension, diabetes and sleep apnea.

Another area of interest for Sanghvi is the Watchman procedure, a minimally invasive implant for patients whose atrial fibrillation is not caused by a heart valve problem and who need an alternative to blood thinners.

The small implant helps to keep clots from developing in the heart. If allowed to form, these clots can break off and find their way to the brain, causing a stroke.

Sanghvi also has an interest in managing congestive heart failure with biventricular devices.

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart doesn't pump blood as well as it should. Fluid builds up in the heart and lungs, which is why sufferers become very short of breath.

In addition, with some people, the two sides of the heart are out of sync.

“What we have found is that when we pace the heart and resynchronize the heart, many times these patients have a much lower risk of developing that congestive heart failure or ending up in the hospital because of fluid overload and often feel better in terms of activity level, energy and so forth,” Sanghvi said.

For some sufferers, a pacemaker is the answer. Alternately, a defibrillator will not only pace the heart but will also administer a shock should a life-threatening problem arise.

Sanghvi said he likes having a positive impact on patients.

“There are very few things in adult medicine where you can potentially cure or significantly alter a patient’s trajectory, and I’m fortunate enough to be in an area where there are certain therapies that I provide that are able to cure people of certain problems or really markedly change how they feel,” he said. “When those patients come back and tell me, ‘Hey, what you did for me made a real difference,’ that really makes this enjoyable.”

In addition, he said electrophysiology gives him opportunities to work with new gadgets and tools.

“That keeps it always exciting,” he said.

For further information on the First Coast Heart & Vascular Center, go to firstcoastheart.com.

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