Team Focuses on Abnormal Heart Rhythm

April 4, 2017

When patients have abnormal heart rhythms, they want access to an electrophysiology team dedicated to diagnosing and treating the
condition. They’ll find that at Mercy Clinic Cardiology and Heart Care – Joplin, which offers full access to the latest advances in cardiac care.

While electrophysiology (EP) is a relatively new field, Mercy is the only health system in the Joplin region with a full-time EP team led by Dr. Rafael Gaytan. The highly trained team has a lab equipped with technology specific to the specialty. It deals with a variety of
cases including those that involve rapid and abrupt heart rates, heart pathways that are not supposed to exist, low pulse rates, irregular
and chaotic rhythms, and malignant arrhythmias that can cause sudden death.

Dr. Gaytan is a cardiac electrophysiologist who started the program at Mercy in 2007.

“I trained my own personnel, so they are unique in this hospital because only they are highly trained in EP. Most of them have been with me since the first day,” he said.

Gaytan’s team is especially impressive because the field is in its infancy.

“It didn’t exist when I was in medical school,” he said. “When I did my training, a lot of the procedures were still being developed. There was, and still is, a lot of excitement about it because it’s one of the areas in cardiology that’s still pioneering. We’re doing things that we didn’t have the capability to do even five years ago.”

EP includes cardiac ablation, a procedure that interrupts and destroys tissue in the heart that allows incorrect electrical signals
to cause an abnormal heart rhythm, as well as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators.

Dr. Gaytan’s patients tend to be from two distinct groups. The first involves younger people who likely acquired an arrhythmia via a
birth defect. These patients typically experience a rapid and abrupt heart rate.

“Half the problems I see are birth defects where there’s nothing the patient can do to prevent the problem,” he said.

Arrhythmias among the second group of patients – the older population – are more ubiquitous and can involve irregular heart
rates that formed over time or grew from advanced conditions like heart disease. People can help prevent acquiring these problems by
not smoking, exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and watching their blood pressure and cholesterol.

If you experience any of these symptoms or have a family history of heart problems, contact Mercy Clinic Cardiology and Heart Care at

Our Providers

Rafael J. Gaytan, MD, Mercy
Cardiac Electrophysiology
Mercy Clinic


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