Welcome, and thank you for visiting the home on
the web for
Valley Regional Arrhythmia Center.
Located in the heart of San
Fernando Valley, VRAC is a medical group specializing in the area of
Electrophysiology. Our practice is devoted to the management of
or irregular heartbeat.
On this website, you may find
information about our services, our physicians, and
our office locations. In
addition, there is a special section on
patient resources, which is dedicated entirely to the education
of patients with arrhythmias.
What is Cardiac Electrophysiology?
An arrhythmia is a disorder involving the electrical system
of the heart. Such disorder leads to heartbeats that are too
fast, too slow, or just irregular and may result in symptoms of
palpitation, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, racing heartbeat, and even sudden cardiac arrest.
These electrical problems of the heart are distinguished from those
involving the arteries and muscles of the heart.
is the study of electrical impulses of the heart. It is a
sub-specialty of Cardiology dedicated exclusively to the management
of arrhythmias. A Cardiac Electrophysiologist
is, therefore, a board certified Cardiologist with additional
qualification and certification in the area of Clinical Cardiac
Electrophysiology, commonly referred to as "Electrophysiology."
To become a Cardiac Electrophysiologist, one must go through
specialized training program and board
The following example will
illustrate the difference between a Cardiologist and an
Electrophysiologist. A Cardiologist specializes in opening up
clotted arteries with procedures like angioplasty and coronary
stents and a Cardiac Electrophysiologist focuses on fixing rhythm
disorders with procedures like
and radiofrequency ablation.
While both are cardiologists, they deal with different areas of the
heart. The former is often referred to as the
"plumber" and the latter the
While some patients with arrhythmias
can be taken care of by their "plumber," many patients
with irregular heartbeat may require specialized
care by an "electrician," especially if they require
procedures such as radiofrequency ablation
which is performed only by a Cardiac Electrophysiologist.
The Development of the
Field of Cardiac Electrophysiology
Electrophysiology, the last two decades of the 20th century
witnessed an explosive growth both in our understanding of the
mechanisms of arrhythmias and in our ability to provide treatments
that really make a difference. Unraveling of the
electrical circuits of atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation led to
refinement in their treatment. Minimally invasive procedures
such as radiofrequency ablation resulted in the complete cure and
elimination of many arrhythmias which previously could only be
managed by multiple potentially toxic drugs or by major open heart
surgery. Today, electrophysiology study and ablation are no
longer considered esoteric procedures but are rapidly becoming the
standard of care for many forms of arrhythmias.
The end of the 20th century also saw an
increased acceptance, by physicians and by the public, of a
life-saving procedure called the
Cardioverter-Defibrillator, or ICD for short. Many lives
have been saved by this device which automatically delivers an
electrical shock to a heart that has gone into a life-threatening
arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. The shock can
the heart back to its normal rhythm and resuscitate the patient, who otherwise would have died. During the first
year of the 21st century, such a device was
implanted in our vice-president Dick Cheney. This publicity
led to further public awareness of this important medical device.
Besides the popularization of the ICD, the first
decade of the 21st century was also highlighted by two major
breakthroughs in Electrophysiology. First, the advent of
"Biventricular" pacing, or
cardiac resynchronization therapy
(CRT), resulted in significant improvement in the quality of life in
many patients with congestive
heart failure, many of whom were on the verge of needing a heart
transplant. Second, further refinement in
mapping have made it feasible to cure with radiofrequency
ablation many complex arrhythmias (including those in patients with
surgically corrected congenital heart diseases) which previously
could only be managed with drugs and pacemakers. Such mapping
technique also made it possible and practical to cure
fibrillation with ablation, a procedure which would have taken
over 12 hours to perform a decade ago, but can be completed in 2-3
hours today. In 2007, radiofrequency
ablation is no longer considered a "last resort" treatment for
patients with atrial fibrillation, but is a viable treatment option
for patients who do not, can not, or wishes not to be on chronic
In summary, rapid advancement in the management
of arrhythmias in the past several decades has led to the creation
of the sub-specialty of Cardiac Electrophysiology. Physicians
specializing in this field, or Cardiac Electrophysiologists, can
help many patients with arrhythmias by providing specialized,
curative procedures such as radiofrequency ablation. Provision of such
care, we believe, can best be accomplished in a sub-specialty environment
dedicated exclusively to the management of arrhythmias, thus the
launching of Valley Regional Arrhythmia Center.
Statement of Valley Regional Arrhythmia Center
Established in 2004 by
James Ong, M.D.,
Valley Regional Arrhythmia Center is the first medical institution
in San Fernando Valley dedicated exclusively to the care of patients
arrhythmias. Its service area encompasses San
Fernando Valley and Conejo Valley.
Regional Arrhythmia Center, we endeavor to provide the most
personable, comprehensive, and state-of-the-art management
for patients with arrhythmias. In our offices, patients are always attended
their physicians, not by a nurse practitioner or a physician
assistant. We offer a complete range of office-based diagnostic
studies as well as hospital-based therapeutic procedures which are
specifically tailored toward patients with irregular heartbeats.
Our physicians diligently strive to stay at the forefront of their
specialty through research and continuing medical education.
The Center was founded on a simple premise that
underlies the creation of all specialties in the field of medicine.
That is, a physician who concentrates on one specialized area of
medicine likely has more experience and is more skilled in that
particular area compared to another physician who is not. This
is true for medicine, as well as law, dentistry, and essentially all aspects of
A "Jack of all
trades" simply is unlikely (though not impossible) to be the best in
every one of his trades.
Thus, at Valley Regional Arrhythmia Center, we
concentrate our work only in the field of Cardiac Electrophysiology. We
believe strongly that clinical experience is the foundation of good
outcome and experience is best obtained through a practice in which
a physician is dedicated to performing
specialized surgery within his or her own
area. Thus, while our physicians are all "triple
certified" in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases,
and Clinical Cardiac
Electrophysiology, we limit our practice only to the latter.
We pride ourselves as a busy tertiary referral center with excellent
relationship with our area internists and cardiologists.
same line, we choose our affiliation with our local hospitals and
medical centers based on the availability of the most advanced
technologies and the best support team to "get the job done."
Hospitals vary dramatically in the quality of their equipment and
level of staff experiences; these factors are critical in our
physicians' choice of the hospitals so that we can maintain
a high standard of care
for our patients.
of this website is to provide useful and comprehensive information on arrhythmias
for patients and health care professionals alike. The primary goal
is to educate our patients and the public about the field of Cardiac
Electrophysiology and the secondary goal is to introduce Valley
Regional Arrhythmia Center to the community. This website is divided
into the following major sections:
Home: Home is
where your heart is (fixed).
section provides Information
on our physicians, staff, and office location.
This section details all the services that we offer, both office and
This is an educational section on everything that one needs to know about
Types of Arrhythmias, 2)
How a Diagnosis
is Made, 3)
Treatment Options for Arrhythmias, 4)
Atrial Fibrillation, 5)
Heart Failure, 6)
Frequently Asked Questions,
This area contains everything (hopefully) our patients need to know about
1) preparing for your first visit, 2) preparing for your surgery, 3)
immediate post-operative care after surgery, 4) long-term follow-up
care, and 5) what to do if .... This last section includes
discussions and important tips on some of the more commonly
emergencies or semi-emergencies in Electrophysiology.
These are sample testimonials from our patients.
Contac Us: This
contains everything you need to know to make an appointment.
FAQ: This contains a
list of some of the most frequently asked questions
about Cardiac Electrophysiology.
We hope that
you will find our website useful and easy to navigate. After your visit, please do not
hesitate to leave any comments or suggestions about this site. You may choose
to contact us by phone or
email. Thank you for visiting us at Valley
Regional Arrhythmia Center.
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How to Make an Appointment
Please click this link
for instruction on making an appointment.