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Baptist Health opens Heart Rhythm Center

Medical staff at Baptist Health will be able to detect heartbeat irregularities using equipment in the Electrophysiology Lab.
Jacksonville Daily Record
Medical staff at Baptist Health will be able to detect heartbeat irregularities using equipment in the Electrophysiology Lab.

Baptist Health Medical Center has opened a center to treat heart rhythm disorders, a relatively common occurrence in the aging population.

The 14,400-square-foot Heart Rhythm Center at Baptist Heart Hospital includes 10 patient rooms overlooking the St. Johns River, three hybrid operating rooms, a family lounge and a team of specially trained caregivers and physicians.

One in 18 people experiences an irregular heartbeat during their lifetime, Baptist says. The most common type is atrial fibrillation, which occurs when the upper and lower chambers of the heart are not coordinated. Afib causes the heart to beat too slowly, quickly or irregularly.

The $17 million Heart Rhythm Center also can treat tachycardia (heart beating too quickly), bradycardia (heart beating too slowly) and ventricular fibrillation (causing the heart to stop beating).

Symptoms of heart rhythm disorders include heart palpitations, fatigue, lightheadedness or dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain and sweating.

"If you have any signs of a heart rhythm disorder, it’s important to seek treatment right away," said Dr. Matthew McKillop, medical director of the electrophysiology program, which involves care of the heart's electrical system. "If left untreated, these conditions can cause hospitalization or death."

When patients arrive at the new Heart Rhythm Center, their experience will be like checking into a hotel, McKillop said. “It’s truly a ‘one-stop shop.’ We have the latest and greatest technology, highly trained physicians and staff — all in an environment designed to help patients feel relaxed and comfortable.”

McKillop said the demand for heart rhythm care has exploded with the growing and aging population in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, as well as the ability to diagnose heart rhythm abnormalities with technology like wearable devices.

“Smartwatches have amazing technology that notifies people if they are experiencing a heart rhythm abnormality,” said Dr. McKillop. “This helps patients identify an issue and get to a cardiologist earlier than ever. Patients can get help before they have other life-changing symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath.”

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. You can reach Randy at or on Twitter, @rroguski.