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What do you think of when you picture Venice, Italy?  Romantic gondola rides along the canal?  Check.  Towering cathedrals?  Yep.  Ornate glass masterpieces?  Got ’em.  One of the largest annual conferences on cardiac arrhythmias in the world?  Huh?  Yes, that’s right, each year, experts in electrophysiology from across the globe convene in Venice to discuss the latest in arrhythmia treatment and research.  This year, three TCAI nurses, six physicians, several researchers, a technologist, and a former patient were all invited to speak at this 12th annual who’s who of electrophysiology.  Not only did they share with the world the great things happening at St. David’s Medical Center, they also brought back some great knowledge, and some ideas for improving patient care and education stateside.

Our allied health professionals (nurses and technologists) were tapped for some heavy-hitting sessions in Venice.  Barbara Thomas, the Director of Electrophysiology (EP) Services and the Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) center, was the co-chair of the allied professionals track at the meeting and served on a panel discussing the role of EP nurses in different national health systems.   Tami Metz, the Manager of TCAI’s EP Lab, spoke about ablation of ventricular arrhythmias.  Our resident Coordinator of EP Education, Matthew Dare, gave a presentation about new technology in the field.  Cindy Williams, one of our AFib Nurses, presented on the nurse’s role in AFib Ablation, touting our unique Nurse Navigator program, where AFib patients have a nurse follow them from initial through two years’ post-procedure.  One of our nurse practitioners, Kay Zedlitz, delivered her perspective on improving patient outcomes using Cardiac Resynchronization Devices.

TCAI physicians stole the show in Venice.  Doctors Gallinghouse, Canby, Sanchez, Horton, Natale, and Burkhardt all shared their expertise, experience, and research results on just about every subject in EP.  Dr. Andrea Natale, the Medical Director of TCAI, was co-president of the conference, participated in a lively debate about whether AFib ablation should be first-line therapy in caring for patients with AFib.  Based on studies conducted by TCAI, Dr. Natale came down on the “pro” side of the debate, explaining that, for patients with a normal heart, ablation can be an effective first tool that the physician reaches for in curing AFib.

Speaking of TCAI research, several of our research fellows presented abstracts and posters in the conference.  Dr. Luigi Di Biase, Senior Research Fellow, extended his stay in Italy so he could accept the prestigious Valsalva Award in Bologna, Italy.  The award, given by the Italian Institute for Cardiovascular Research, honors distinguished, young researchers who have made significant innovations in cardiovascular research.

So next time you think of Venice, think of all the great knowledge that’s gained and shared every October at the Venice Arrhythmias conference.  Because, how romantic can a gondola ride be when you’re in AFib?

image credit : Chiara Marra

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