Irregular or abnormal heart beats, called arrhythmias, occur when there are abnormal electrical impulses in your heart, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. Arrhythmias are very common and are often a mere annoyance. However, they can also be responsible for life-threatening medical emergencies that may result in cardiac arrest and sudden death. The most common irregular heart rhythm is called atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) and involves the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. Over 2 million Americans are affected by AFib and it is responsible for 15% of all strokes.
Arrhythmia treatment depends on the type and severity of the arrhythmia. Treatment options may include medications, lifestyle changes, invasive therapies, electrical devices or surgery. In some cases, no treatment is necessary. Take this opportunity to learn more about arrhythmias, including device therapy such as pacemakers and defibrillators, and have your questions answered by electrophysiologists Bruce Wilkoff, MD and Bryan Baranowski, MD.
Bruce Wilkoff, MD, is the Director of Cardiac Pacing and Tachyarrhythmia Devices, Associate Section Head of the Pacing and Electrophysiology Section, Medical Information Officer of the Heart and Vascular Institute and a staff cardiologist in the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Section of Cardiac Pacemakers and Electrophysiology at Cleveland Clinic. He is also Professor of Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Wilkoff has a special interest in the removal of pacemaker and implantable defibrillator leads, biventricular pacing for congestive heart failure and other arrhythmia device technologies. In addition, he specializes in treating cardiac arrhythmia, implanting defibrillators and the computerized analysis of cardiac pacemakers and electrophysiologic studies. He is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, and he has served since 1988 on the examination writing committee for Special Competency in Cardiac Pacing and Defibrillation.
Dr. Wilkoff is recognized as an international expert in the design of new technologies to improve the performance of pacemakers and defibrillators. He is involved in numerous clinical multi-center trials to study medical applications for pacemakers and defibrillators. He holds six U.S. patents including a special algorithm for defibrillator tachycardia detection and an efficient controller for pacemaker rate responsiveness.
Bryan Baranowski, MD, is an electrophysiologist and invasive cardiologist in the Section of Electrophysiology and Pacing in the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, specializing in the diagnosis and management of heart rhythm disorders. He was appointed to the medical staff in 2009. His areas of expertise include catheter ablation of complex arrhythmias and pulmonary vein isolation for atrial fibrillation, as well as device related therapies including the implantation and extraction of pacemakers, defibrillators and CRT-D devices.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Dr. Baranowski served his internship and residency at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore, Md. He has been at Cleveland Clinic since 2004, completing a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine here, followed by a fellowship in electrophysiology. During his final fellowship year he served as the Chief Clinical Fellow in Electrophysiology.
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Baranowski is actively engaged in cardiovascular research. His interests include electrical therapies for heart failure and ventricular dyssynchrony, and novel therapeutic approaches to patients with rhythm disorders including atrial fibrillation.