Heart Rhythm Services

The Heart Rhythm Program provides specialist care and follow-up services to patients with heart rhythm disorders.

  • Referrals are required for all in-patient procedures and outpatient clinics.
Atrial Fibrillation Clinic

The Atrial Fibrillation Clinic provides care to patients with arrhythmias called ‘atrial fibrillation’ or ‘atrial flutter’. Our team includes; an electrophysiology physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, pharmacist and electrocardiography technicians.

What to bring to your visit:

It is important for you to bring an up-to-date list of your medications and your BC Care Card to your appointment.

Patient Information

Information about the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic

Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter

Cardioversion pamphlet

Contact Information

Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday 8am - 4pm

211-1033 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 1M7
Phone: 604-806-9475
Fax: 604-806-9476

Heart Rhythm Device Clinic

Our clinic provides evaluation and ongoing follow-up care to patients with Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators to ensure each device is working properly and to monitor the life of the device.

What to bring

It is important for you to bring an up-to-date list of your medications and your BC Care Card to your appointment.

Disease Information

Everyone has their own normal heart rhythm. Usually, the heart beats between 60 and 80 times per minute. An abnormal heart rhythm is called an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias include bradycardia (slow) and tachycardia (fast) rhythms, with a variety of conditions under those two categories. 

For people with recurrent arrhythmias, devices such as a pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators can help by continuously monitoring the heart's electrical system and providing automatic correction when an arrhythmia occurs. 

Patient Information

Pacemaker Guide

Cardiac Resynchronisation Guide

ICDs Guide

Contact Information

Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday 8am - 4pm

211-1033 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 1M7
Phone: 604-806-8267
Fax: 604-806-9476

BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program

The BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program (BCIAP) is a provincial program which combines the expertise of specialists in both adult and pediatric cardiology along with medical genetics, to identify, screen and manage patients and families affected by an inherited heart rhythm condition. These conditions may cause no symptoms, or lead to sudden fainting spells. In a small number of people, inherited heart rhythm conditions can cause a sudden cardiac arrest (a condition where the heart stops beating suddenly) and/or sudden cardiac death. Early diagnosis and effective treatment in those who are found to be at risk can be life saving.

Patients referred to the BCIAP will:

  • Undergo relevant heart screening tests
  • Meet with a team of health care providers including a heart rhythm specialist, genetic counsellor and nurse
  • Receive a complete clinical evaluation including: a review of their personal and family heart history, discussion of medical management options, genetic counselling, education and support
  • Be offered the option to meet with the BC Inherited Arrhythmia research team to discuss enrollment in research registries

Who can be referred?

Health care providers (specialists and family doctors) can refer the following patients and/or families to the program: 

  • Patients with a suspected or known diagnosis of an inherited heart rhythm condition (Long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy)
  • Patients with a personal history of unexplained sudden cardiac arrest
  • First degree relatives of the above
  • Individuals with a family history of sudden unexplained death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

What to Bring

  • Family History Information
    • ​Most patients will receive a family history questionnaire at the time their referral is processed. We ask that you try and complete the questionnaire as best you can, and return it to us as soon as possible. 
    • We understand that these documents may not be available and/or that this history may be difficult to discuss with family members. Our team will work with whatever information you are able to provide.
  • Genetic testing reports for yourself or other family members
  • Autopsy reports for a first degree family member who have had an unexplained sudden death
  • A list of your current medications and your BC Care Card
  • Comfortable shoes and clothing (if a stress test or other heart tests are planned on the day of your appointment) 

Disease Information

How are inherited arrhythmias diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made or suspected based on the results of different heart monitoring or imaging tests, and by taking a careful medical and family history. These conditions may be difficult to diagnose because the abnormal heart rhythm changes may not always appear on the heart monitoring tests. Sometimes, the heart rhythm changes and/or symptoms only happen during exercise or at rest. The diagnostic heart rhythm changes may not always be very obvious, and may only be recognized by an expert’s eyes (ex: a heart rhythm specialist). Genetic testing can also help make the diagnosis in some patients and families. 

Arrhythmia Alliance: A Guide to Genetic Testing for Inherited Heart Conditions

American Heart Association: Genetic Testing for Inherited Heart Disease

What treatment is available for those with the diagnosis or those who are at risk?

Treatment and management depends on a patient’s symptoms, heart test results and specific diagnosis. For some, taking a daily medication (such as a beta-blocker) can significantly reduce the chance of a cardiac event (such as sudden fainting). For others who have had more serious symptoms (such as a cardiac arrest), an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) will be put in place. The ICD is able to correct an abnormally fast heart beat by means of a high energy electrical impulse. Finally, some patients may need both an ICD and a daily medication.

What are the most common inherited arrhythmias?

People who inherit a predisposition to an inherited arrhythmia may have symptoms such as sudden fainting, palpitations, fatigue, dizzy spells, light-headedness or no symptoms at all. A small number of people who are affected by an inherited arrhythmia may suffer a sudden cardiac arrest or sudden death.

Genetic Counselling/Genetic Testing

The Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC) website provides a list of Canadian genetics clinics and other helpful resources on genetic conditions, genetic counselling and genetic testing.

Patient Support

SADS Foundation

This site provides resources and support for patients/families living with inherited heart rhythm conditions, and for those having lost a loved one suddenly.

Compassionate Friends

 

Follow BCIAP on clip_image002.jpg

 

Patient Information

Prior to the Appointment:

Depending on the reason for referral, some heart tests may be arranged prior to the appointment or on the same day as the appointment. 

In person or videoconference appointments are available to some patients; the reason for referral and location of residence may determine which type of appointment is offered. 

On the Day of the Appointment:

Please allow up to 2 hours for your clinic appointment.

You undergo an electrocardiogram prior to meeting with the inherited arrhythmia team.

As research is an integral part of the program, the research team will discuss the option of enrollment in registries. Participation is entirely voluntary.

You can always call the BCIAP office with any questions or concerns after the appointment.

What if My Children (under 18) Also Need an Appointment?

If children are referred to our program, heart tests and clinic appointments can be coordinated with our colleagues at the BC Children’s Heart Centre. In some cases, both parents and children are seen together for a joint appointment with the adult and pediatric heart rhythm specialists, genetic counsellor, nurse clinician and research staff.

 

Here are some detailed downloads for you and your family to read before your first visit:

First visit letter

What to expect when you come for your appointment

Contact Information

211-1033 Davie St. 
Vancouver, BC V6E 1M7 
Phone: 604-682-2344 ext. 66766 
Fax: 604-806-9474 
Referral form

Any questions about the program can be directed to the Program Coordinator, Julie Hathaway at 604-682-2344 ext. 66765 or julie.hathaway@vch.ca