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Treating Heart Arrhythmia in a Young Dancer


[♪] – In order for the heart to function well, it has to be pumping in a
very coordinated fashion. For that all to work together, there’s a complex electrical
system inside the heart. – The electrical signals are the foundation of the heartbeat. An electrical signal leading
the a squeeze of the heart is like a dance. The electricity of the heart has to move in a coordinated fashion, so that the blood can move
through nice and smoothly. – That coordination provides the normal rhythm, or squeezing pattern for the heart. And when that goes awry, that’s what we call an abnormal
rhythm, or an arrhythmia. – Abnormal electrical impulses can lead to a variety
of symptoms in patients, and it can even lead to heart failure over time in some patients. – I’m Charlotte and I’m 10 years old. I do dance, like ballet and Irish dance. – The first time she had an episode was when she was dancing. She was doing Irish dance,
which is very aerobic at times, and she just stopped and said “My heart’s beating really fast.” We checked her pulse, it was
definitely going very fast, and it just wasn’t slowing down the normal way you would
think it would slow down. – It felt like it was popping out and it was going super fast and I could feel it when
I put my hand over it. – Charlotte’s symptoms were caused by SVT, or superventricular tachycardia, which is an abnormally fast heart rhythm. So she used both the
normal circuit of her heart and also this extra electrical
pathway in her heart to create a circuit, that gave her palpitations
that were not dangerous in and of themselves, but understandably very
uncomfortable for her. – [Charlotte] Sometimes it would just come and I would have to stop. It’s harder for me to dance, concentrating on what
I’m meant to be doing instead of trying to concentrate and trying to make it stop. – It was nerve wracking, however, Dr. Beach was very calming with explaining exactly what was happening. This is a condition that could be potentially very dangerous, but this is how we’re gonna deal with it. – We have special pediatric cardiologists who deal with the electrical
system of the heart. You can think of them as
the cardiac electricians, if you will, and we call
them electrophysiologists. – [Dr. Beach] Charlotte
underwent a procedure that we call an electrophsyiology
study and ablation. We use catheters to access blood vessels at the top of the legs to get
to the inside of the heart through the body. We use these catheters to find the abnormal electrical
signals in the heart and then create a little
scar right at the exact area, so that the electricity can’t move at that particular site. We start by making some
geometry of the heart, so that we actually have a 3D heart model we’re looking at, and we watch our catheters,
and we map the electricity, so that we can actually see
where the electricity moves through the heart and we see the normal electricity as well as the abnormal
electricity in this way. – [Heather] With the ablation procedure, she would only have to be
in for a day or two at most, and it would be through the femoral veins, so they don’t have to open up her heart or anything like that,
a very safe procedure. – [Dr. Asnes] The programs within the children’s heart center span everything from
heart rhythm abnormalities like arrhythmias to heart failure, where the heart muscle
itself is not working, and perhaps the patient
needs a heart transplant. It’s really a comprehensive program that takes care of patients and families with heart problems that got diagnosed, perhaps when they’re in utero, and we will manage those heart problems all the way through til adulthood, when our patients are hopefully
having their own families. – [Dr. Beach] Charlotte’s doing awesome. She hasn’t had any symptoms since she had her procedure. – [Heather] She’s doing great. Since the surgery, she is
back to her normal self. We just don’t have to
worry about anything. – [Charlotte] It feels
better than worrying about whenever I do jumps and stuff. Is it gonna happen, is
it not gonna happen? We don’t really even think
about it much anymore. – [Dr. Beach] I just feel so honored to be able to play a part in allowing Charlotte
to not even have this be an issue for her.

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