Faith is back at the top of her game after heart care at CHoR
February 08, 2022
Faith is back at the top of her game after heart care at CHoR

    When Faith Purdy was just 9 years old, she started feeling lightheaded and noticed her heart was beating really fast. She told her parents, who grew concerned about their normally active, healthy daughter. A trip to her primary care doctor turned into a referral to CHoR.

    Expert diagnosis and treatment for pediatric heart arrhythmia

    Dr. John Phillips, an expert in pediatric heart arrhythmias, diagnosed Faith with atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia. This form of supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, is an abnormally fast heartbeat that often starts and stops suddenly. It’s caused by an extra electrical branch off the normal “wire” between the upper collecting chambers and the lower pumping chambers of the heart.

    Dr. Phillips prescribed medication to prevent further episodes of SVT, which was successful at first. As time went on though, Faith began having breakthrough episodes with rapid heartbeat and lightheadedness again.

    “When determining the best choice of treatment, we have to weigh the risks and benefits. The benefits of first-line medications are high and the risk of side effects is low, so we started there,” said Dr. Phillips. “When first-line medications are no longer effective and second-line medications are required to control heart arrhythmia, as in Faith’s case, the risks start to go up. That’s when I recommended an intracardiac eletrophysiologic study with ablation.”

    An intracardiac electrophysiologic study is a test to look at how the heart’s electrical signals are working. Cardiac ablation is a procedure that uses heat or cold to create scars and block abnormal electrical signals. The major benefit of ablation is that it’s effective 97% of the time and offers a permanent cure. After talking through the options, Faith’s family agreed this was the best choice.

    “Dr. Phillips was very thorough and reassuring. He made sure we understood what was going on, and that Faith had an understanding too. His care was awesome,” said Faith’s dad, Victor.

    Faith’s successful cardiac ablation procedure

    On procedure day, Faith came to the cardiac catheterization laboratory for sedation, further detailed testing and the ablation. Through IVs in the veins in her legs, Dr. Phillips was able to advance small tubes called catheters all the way to her heart. He used these catheters to test the electricity of her heart, identify the extra electrical wire that existed and seal it off, so it could no longer conduct electricity. Then, the catheters and IVs were removed, and Faith was transferred to the recovery area for a few hours before returning home the same day.

    Eliminating the extra wire cured Faith’s SVT and, after three days of taking it easy to allow her leg wounds to heal, she returned to full activity without restrictions. For Faith, that meant active hobbies like track, gymnastics and other sports, along with quieter interests like sewing.

    As the only trained and board-certified pediatric electrophysiologist in Central Virginia, Dr. Phillips was able to quickly and meticulously diagnose Faith’s condition and guide her treatment to find the best, safest and most enduring solution. And Faith’s family was able to stay close to home for this care. One year later, she’s still doing great and hasn’t had a single episode of lightheadedness or rapid heartbeat.

    “Faith’s prognosis is excellent. She is cured of her arrhythmia and no longer requires medications or pediatric cardiology follow up. She can participate in all activities and sports without restrictions and there are no long-term complications from the cardiac ablation procedure, so her future is bright and unlimited,” added Dr. Phillips.

    Read more about how our electrophysiology team cares for kids with heart arrhythmias at CHoR.

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