Solving the Mystery of Jennifer's Racing Heart

Jennifer Roynan

“I was in the kitchen going about my daily chores when out of nowhere my heart rate went through the roof,” recalls Jennifer Roynan, 49, of Skippack, Pennsylvania. Within two minutes, she felt fine, until it happened again a few months later.

“In November 2019, my husband and I celebrated our 25 th wedding anniversary in Europe. The trip was amazing, but my heart raced a couple of times. I wasn’t stressed or upset and my symptoms did not seem to be exercise related,” says Jennifer, who works out regularly.

Time for Action

For Christmas, Jennifer asked for an Apple Watch to track her heart rate. By January 2020, she was hitting 200 beats per minute up to four times a week. “I started getting nervous,” says Jennifer. Unfortunately, when she called the large health system where she received her care, there was a six-month wait to see a cardiologist.

At the suggestion of a friend, Jennifer called Doylestown Health.

Easing Jennifer’s Mind

The receptionist at Doylestown Health Cardiology fit Jennifer in for an appointment with board-certified cardiologist Renee Sangrigoli, MD. “The receptionist really listened to my concerns,” says Jennifer, “And, Dr. Renee was fantastic! She asked questions, went over lots of information and put me at ease.” After wearing a cardiac monitor at home for two weeks, Jennifer returned to Doylestown Hospital for a scheduled ultrasound. “The woman who performed the study was amazing! Everyone was so nice.”

Determining that Jennifer had a problem with the electrical impulses that regulate the heartbeat, Dr. Renee referred her to an electrophysiologist, a cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm disorders.

High-Level Heart Care

Doylestown Health’s Electrophysiology Service is a leader in state-of-the-art clinical care and groundbreaking research. A high-volume center in the treatment of arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats), Doylestown Health’s success rates are comparable to the top centers in the United States.

Within two days, Jennifer was sitting in front of Doylestown Health electrophysiologist Robert Sangrigoli, MD, who is also Dr. Renee’s husband.

“Dr. Rob explained that I could manage my condition with medication, but eventually, I’d probably need to have my heart repaired,” says Jennifer. Opting to have surgery sooner, she scheduled for April 2020, but elective procedures were halted due to COVID-19, so she rescheduled for October 15.

The Science Behind the Surgery

Radiofrequency ablation is a catheter-based therapy used to apply heat energy to eliminate cells that cause abnormal heartbeats. This minimally invasive procedure is guided by advanced, high-density grid mapping technology.

A GPS for the Heart

“Mapping enables us to safely and effectively pinpoint short circuits and abnormal heartbeats by displaying high-definition, color-coded, 3-D information similar to a GPS road map. This leads to shorter procedure times and more precise ablation of cardiac tissue,” says Dr. Rob.

How it works:

  • Through tiny incisions, the electrophysiologist guides a thin, diagnostic catheter through a groin artery up to the heart.
  • The catheter emits impulses causing the heart to beat faster and slower.
  • The electrical activity is recorded and mapped to pinpoint the source of the abnormal rhythm.

With mapping, Dr. Rob and his colleague, electrophysiologist John Harding, MD, discovered an extra electrical connection known as a bypass tract between the heart’s upper and lower chambers, which was causing Jennifer’s rapid heartbeats — a condition known as supraventricular tachycardia.

Navigating the ablation catheter to Jennifer’s heart, Dr. Rob eliminated the extra connection using heat energy, restoring a normal beat and preventing future episodes.

Advanced Healing with a Personal Touch

Thanks to adjustments made after Jennifer told the anesthesiologist about her history of nausea, she woke from her procedure with a clear mind, “I was not sick at all.”

Reflecting on her experience, Jennifer says she felt safe and comfortable at Doylestown Health from the moment the receptionist went the extra mile to arrange a timely appointment. Even during a global pandemic, the team remained focused on what was best for her.

The day after her ablation, Jennifer attended a local high school football game, enjoying fresh air and family with her heartbeat worries behind her.

About Doylestown Health's Heart & Vascular Services

Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. Doylestown Hospital’s accredited Chest Pain Center is fully prepared to treat cardiac emergencies around the clock, focusing on rapid diagnosis and effective treatment. The multidisciplinary team at the Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.

Want to Find a Provider?

Doylestown Health provides care options that continue through all of life’s health and wellness needs. From common to complex, our expert physicians and support teams give you the best in care.