The Brody School of Medicine at ECU and Vidant Health have announced the opening of North Carolina’s first specialized atrial fibrillation management clinic, located within the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.
The new program is aimed at preventing and managing the heart rhythm disturbance that causes more strokes in the United States than any other condition. It’s being led by Dr. Paul Mounsey, the new chief of cardiac electrophysiology at ECHI.
“Atrial fibrillation, or A-fib – the heart beating in an abnormal rhythm – is the chief cause of stroke,” Mounsey said. “Eastern North Carolina, like many other rural areas, experiences a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease than other areas of the country. So my colleagues and I are especially thrilled to be able to provide this service that will improve outcomes for the patients in this region.”
Mounsey specializes in managing all forms of cardiac rhythm abnormalities, including atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia and atrial flutter. His expertise includes catheter ablation, an intravenous procedure in which tissue that is allowing faulty electrical signals to be sent, is scarred or destroyed to prevent abnormal heart rhythm. He also implants and manages all types of cardiac rhythm devices, including pacemakers, defibrillators and biventricular pacers.
“This new program will allow us to offer comprehensive management plans for patients in the East living with atrial fibrillation,” Mounsey said. “The medical care for each individual will be unique and could include any number of procedures and devices that we can provide right here – cardiac ablation, pacemakers, extra-vascular (under the skin) defibrillators, or the WATCHMAN™ device.”
Mounsey was an early adopter of the WATCHMAN™, a quarter-size device that is implanted in the heart through a catheter to help prevent stroke in patients with cardiac arrhythmias who can’t tolerate blood-thinning medications. He recently completed the first WATCHMAN™ procedure performed in eastern North Carolina.
Mounsey is also partnering with his former University of North Carolina colleague, ECU cardiac surgeon Dr. Andy Kiser, to start a program for hybrid surgical and catheter-based procedures that treat the most difficult, longstanding cases of atrial fibrillation.
ECHI is the only medical facility in eastern North Carolina offering implantation of the Micra™ Transcatheter Pacing System – the world’s smallest fully implantable pacemaker – a bullet-shaped device with an 11-year battery.
“The Micra™ doesn’t block veins like other pacemakers do, so it’s well suited for patients on dialysis,” Mounsey said. ECU cardiologist Dr. Rajasekhar Nekkanti, led the first implantation in eastern North Carolina this fall, and the team has since implanted more than 10 devices.
ECHI aims to round out its atrial fibrillation management team with a researcher who will help ensure the program remains on the cutting edge of cardiac arrhythmia treatment.
The team is also planning an awareness and education initiative across the region in hopes of lowering the incidence of premature, natural sudden death due to atrial fibrillation. That campaign will leverage cell-phone based heart monitors to identify cases of atrial fibrillation in rural communities.
Mounsey completed his medical education and residency training at the University of Oxford Medical School in the United Kingdom, and fellowships in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, respectively. Prior to his appointment at ECU, he served on the faculties of UVA and UNC.
The new clinic is located at 115 Heart Drive in Greenville. Appointments are available at 252-744-4400.