Cardiac Arrhythmia Services Now Available in Southern Illinois

July 26th, 2013

Prairie Heart Institute Builds $9 Million EP Lab; Hires Electrophysiologist

Prairie Heart Institute Southern Illinois Healthcare now offers an advanced Heart Rhythm Services program at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. Services commenced in July with the arrival of cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Daniel Correa de Sa.

The service will primarily benefit patients with irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, atrial fibrillation (AF) is by far the most common type of arrhythmia. As the population ages, the incidence and prevalence of AF rises significantly. Catheter or cardiac ablation has been suggested to improve quality of life in AF patients.

A new electrophysiology lab (EP lab) has been constructed to include state-of-the-art electrophysiology equipment to perform studies and the latest treatments for arrhythmias, called cardiac ablations. Supporting staff, including two X-ray technicians and a registered nurse have also been hired and are being sent to the University of Vermont for advanced training in electrophysiology procedures.

“I am excited to start a cardiac ablations program at the hospital that can significantly improve quality of life and increase survival rates,” Correa said.

Tony Capuano, system director of cardiovascular services at Southern Illinois Healthcare noted, “This is a significant addition to the cardiac service line. Prior to this, the options for patients with heart arrhythmias and conduction disorders was to be put on medication or drive three hours away to Prairie's campus in Springfield for treatment.”

What is a Cardiac Ablation?

The heart is like an electrical pump.

“Occasionally there is an electrical glitch in the top or bottom chambers of the heart and an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia occurs,” Correa said. “A cardiac or catheter ablation is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that interrupts that short circuit and reestablishes normal heart rhythm. We look at what parts of the heart are misbehaving electrically and burn those parts of misbehaving tissue.”

In addition to this, ablation therapy can help control the heart rate in people with rapid arrhythmias and potentially reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes. Catheter ablations can also treat premature ventricular contractions (PVC’s) and ventricular tachycardias, in some instances, Correa noted.

What happens during a Cardiac Ablation?

During this 4 to 5 hour-long procedure, a catheter is inserted into a specific area of the heart. A special machine directs energy through the catheter to small areas of the heart muscle that causes the abnormal heart rhythm. This energy “disconnects” the source of the abnormal rhythm from the rest of the heart. It can also be used to disconnect the electrical pathway between the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.

SIH Cares

“For SIH to understand the need for electrophysiology services in the region and support it is admirable,” Capuano said. “For a 150-bed hospital we’re demonstrating services a 500-bed hospital would provide. Cardiovascular services in Southern Illinois just became extremely comprehensive.”

Future plans include hiring one more electrophysiologist once Prairie Heart Institute/SIH establish themselves as an arrhythmia site.

For Appointments

Call Prairie Heart Institute at 618.529.4455 or visit