Heartbeats in Rhythm

Diagnosis and Procedure at Parkwest Medical Center Provide Fast Relief for Crossville Resident

John Kelly wearing white polo and smiling.
John Kelly suffered from episodes of racing and irregular heartbeats. His symptoms resolved after a successful outpatient heart procedure at Parkwest Medical Center. Kelly is grateful to cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. John Meriwether for his expertise and excellent care.

Whether you are awake or asleep, your heart is constantly hard at work delivering oxygen and nutrients through your blood cells to the rest of your body at all times, keeping you alive. When your heart beats rapidly, it may be a normal response to factors such as exercise, illness, or emotional stress. Sometimes there are moments when your heart beats rapidly, even if you are not under stress or enjoying exercise. Rapid heart rate in these circumstances could be the result of an abnormality in the electrical system of the heart. That was the case for John Kelly, a retiree living in Crossville, Tennessee, even when he was being perfectly still.

Unusual, Rapid Heart Rate

For the past two years, Kelly experienced palpitations, or the sensation of a rapid heart rate in the absence of a reason such as physical exertion. “It was like I was running a marathon, but I wasn’t moving,” he says. Kelly was prescribed a beta blocker, a medication used to slow the heart rate and prevent palpitations. The medication alleviated his symptoms to some degree. But he was still having episodes of racing heart and feeling unwell at night, which kept him from getting any sleep. The medication was increased, but the higher dose caused him to feel worse.  Kelly was now suffering because his heart was beating too slowly. Kelly consulted with his local cardiologist in Crossville, who referred him to John Meriwether, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist at Parkwest Medical Center.

Identifying the Problem and Best Course of Action

Dr. Meriwether wearing yellow tie and white lab coat, smiling.
John Meriwether, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist

Adults typically have a heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute. A heart rate of more than 100 BPM could be considered too fast depending on age, condition and other factors. Kelly
experienced heart rates as high as 160 BPM. Dr. Meriwether evaluated Kelly to determine if a pacemaker implant would be the best option to treat his symptoms. The specialist says, “When I saw him, it looked like he was experiencing a slightly different type of rhythm that would be amenable to an ablation procedure. The first step was to determine  where the fast heart rhythm was coming from.” Arrhythmia is a term that means an abnormal heart rhythm. Arrhythmias can be slow or fast, regular or irregular. “Mr. Kelly’s arrhythmia was a fast, regular tachycardia [a heart rate faster than 100 BPM] originating from the upper chambers,” explains Dr. Meriwether. “AVNRT, or atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia, is the type of arrhythmia from which Kelly suffered. It is one of the most common types of ‘supraventricular tachycardia’ referring to the  location of the irregular heartbeat within the heart’s chambers.”

At Parkwest Medical Center

In June 2022, Dr. Meriwether performed an electrophysiology study (or EP study) and a procedure called cardiac ablation, specifically targeting the slow pathway that causes AVNRT. Ablation uses small burns on the inside of the heart to eliminate the electrical signals that cause irregular heartbeats. This can help the heart maintain a normal  rhythm. Dr. Meriwether says that people with episodes of abnormally fast heartbeats that start and end suddenly should talk to their doctor, as their symptoms could indicate a serious  condition.

“Five-Star Care”

Months later, Kelly feels great. His episodes have stopped and his beta blocker gradually was discontinued. He is grateful to have more energy and no palpitations. He says Dr. Meriwether is one of the best doctors he has ever encountered. “Dr. Meriwether is personable, friendly and very thorough. I would definitely recommend him to a friend,” says Kelly. He adds, “After the procedure, I had to remain in recovery to rest for several hours. Dr. Meriwether personally came to my recovery room to discharge me late that evening after he had been at the hospital since early that morning. He had even been pulled away to perform other emergency surgeries as well as his scheduled procedures. “When he visited me, he clearly and carefully explained the procedure, what he found and corrected, and what to do post-op. I thought that was ‘beyond’ that he came in to see me,
having been there all day, and to tell me the operation had been a success. It was definitely five-star care.”

Dr. Meriwether says, “Our job is to properly diagnose and explain every- thing to the patient so they can not only be involved, but understand the process, including medication, procedures and treatment. It helps the patient get on board with their treatment plan and ensure they know what’s going on with their health.” Kelly says, “I could not have received better care, both from the doctor and the nursing  staff at Parkwest. I give them five stars!”

“Electricians for the Heart” Cardiac Electrophysiology Explained

Dr. John Meriwether is a cardiac electrophysiologist, or a heart doctor with a subspecialty focused on the electrical system of  the heart. He treats patients who are experiencing a heart rhythm disorder or who are having symptoms causing their heart to beat in an abnormal way. Patients are referred by a cardiologist to  this type of specialist because they have an arrhythmia or other poor heart function. “We are the electricians for the heart,” Dr. Meriwether explains. “We might find solutions with medication or devices, but there are also ablation procedures that can help many patients to never experience  the arrhythmia again.” He says that cardiac electrophysiologists get “into the plumbing” and get down to “the heart of the matter.”

Dr. Meriwether is board-certified in cardiac electrophysiology, cardio- vascular diseases and nuclear cardiology. He practices at Cardiology Associates of East Tennessee and Parkwest
Medical Center. His clinical interests include diagnosing cardiac rhythm disorders, administering medical and minimally invasive cardiac arrhythmia treatments, and implanting
cardiac rhythm devices such as pacemakers or defibrillators.

Parkwest Cardiac Services

Using cutting-edge, results-driven treatment, the high-performance heart team at Parkwest Medical Center can effectively manage arrhythmias and many common heart conditions.
With elite cardiologists and specially trained staff, outstanding cardiac catheterization facilities and surgery suites, and superior cardiac rehabilitation programs, Parkwest has received
multiple awards and recognition for excellent heart care. One factor that contributes to Parkwest’s continued success is the collaborative approach used to treat patients. By working as a  group, the physicians and heart staff at Parkwest are able to collectively use the knowledge of a team to provide patients with the highest standard of care.

Cardiac services offered at Parkwest include:

  • Invasive Cardiovascular Laboratory
  • Cardiac Diagnostics
  • Cardiac Specialty Unit
  • Cardiothoracic Surgical Unit
  • Cardiovascular Surgical Unit
  • Telemetry Control Services
  • Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

For more information visit TreatedWell.com/CardiacServices or call 865-374-PARK (7275).

Tags for this post:

  • racing heart

News & Articles

news May 24, 2023

“I Wanted to Live”

blog May 24, 2023

Tips for Managing Your Weight

blog May 24, 2023

“I Was Tired of Hurting”