Keeping the Beat

Meet Jason Goebel, MD, electrophysiologist

Here is a specialty you may not have heard of before: Electrophysiology

It is the science of diagnosing and treating abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, and is the fastest growing area of cardiovascular medicine. Grand Strand Regional Medical Center is proud to welcome Jason Goebel, MD, the region’s first full-time electrophysiologist (EP).

Dr. Goebel has been with Grand Strand Regional since January. Originally from Charlotte, N.C., he received his medical degree from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Further training at Duke University and the Medical University of South Carolina included fellowships in cardiology and electrophysiology.

Causes and treatments

Older men and women are most at risk for arrhythmia, Dr. Goebel says, although it can occur in younger, seemingly healthy people as well. Causes include a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, aging and abnormal nerve tissue in the heart muscle. Most cases involve a heart “flutter” or missed beat that can cause dizziness or fainting. In severe cases, arrhythmia can cause a heart attack and sudden cardiac death.

Dr. Goebel has some of the best diagnostic and treatment equipment available at his disposal. “Grand Strand Regional has the most sophisticated 3-D mapping system to make a computerized map of the heart’s chambers and will soon have one of the only biplane (two-level) fluoroscopy units in the region,” he says. “These help reduce the risk of complications and shorten procedure times by as much as 30 percent.”

Dr. Goebel uses radio frequency energy to ablate (destroy) abnormal heart tissue that can cause disrupted rhythms. He is the only EP physician between Wilmington and Charleston to offer ablation procedures. Dr. Goebel also provides lifesaving procedures with implantation of pacemakers and defibrillators to help maintain a steady heartbeat

Spreading the word

“I plan to get out and educate the community and offer screening programs so people can learn if they are at risk,” says Dr. Goebel.

He is also excited about the new, state-of-the-art electrophysiology lab currently being built in the hospital. “As an EP, I can correct cardiac arrhythmias and save lives, and the Myrtle Beach area needs those skills,” he says.

Pacemakers and ICDs

Although heart pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are commonly used to treat heart arrhythmias, each has unique features:

  • A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device, composed of a generator and wire leads that connect it to the heart. A pacemaker signals the heart to beat when the heartbeat is too slow or irregular
  • An ICD is more complex than a pacemaker and monitors the heart constantly. It is designed to deliver an electrical shock to the heart when the heart rate becomes dangerously fast. An ICD functions like an implanted miniature version of the shock paddles used by emergency room doctors.