Norma Benson Find a Location Find a Doctor Heart & Vascular Advanced Heart Failure Management Center Arrhythmia Center Diagnostic Testing Treatments/Procedures Cardiology Heart Attack Care Minimally Invasive Procedures Cardio-Oncology Cardiac Rehab Clinical Research Diagnostic Services Heart Surgery Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute Building Patient Success Stories Prevention & Wellness AHA Training Center CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit Hands-only CPR Healing Hearts Women's Support Group Health Disparities and Cardiovascular Disease Heart Healthy Lifestyle Tips My Heart Rocks Take Time For Your Heart Women and Heart Disease Tobacco Cessation Freedom from Smoking Nicotine Medication Nicotine Replacement Tobacco Cessation Therapy Success Stories Tobacco Cessation Resources Youth E-cigarette and Vaping Epidemic Structural Heart & Valve Center Aortic Valve Replacement Mitral Valve Surgery Your Hospital Stay Care After Heart Surgery Intensive Care for Heart Conditions Nurses with Heart Care Expertise Partners in Heart Care Transitional Care Units Heading into her 80s without arrhythmia slowing her down At age 79, Norma Benson was living an active life. But sudden, severe dizzy spells attacked out of nowhere and stopped her in her tracks. One day she experienced five of them in just 30 minutes, and she knew something was really wrong. “That got my attention. I called my cardiologist, Dr. (Daniel) Courtade, and was seen in the office the next day. They made me an appointment the following week with Dr. (Thomas) Carrigan, an electrophysiologist. I had never even heard of such a doctor!” An electrophysiologist is a physician specialist who diagnoses and treats the electrical system of the heart – the system that manages your heartbeat. Norma was diagnosed with a very dangerous arrhythmia called ventricular tachycardia. When the arrhythmia occurred it was causing her dizzy spells. Dr. Carrigan put Norma on medication, but it did not completely stop the severe dizzy spells. After one very serious episode, Norma was hospitalized. Dr. Carrigan recommended a minimally invasive procedure called an ablation to try to stop the arrhythmias. During an ablation, the physician uses heat or cold energy to create scars inside the heart that stop the electrical activity that causes irregular heartbeats. “Dr. Carrigan told me my heart was full of scars (from previous heart attacks), and as a result the procedure was very difficult. He worked on me for ten to 12 hours.” Afterwards, her tachycardia returned, so a few weeks later he did a follow up procedure. “He said because of the scarring it was difficult to get to every spot that was causing trouble, but the second time he had a better idea of just what spots needed to be addressed. “Since then I have felt much more back to my normal self. I’ve been driving. I’ve had one dizzy spell, one Sunday, and Dr. Carrigan had gotten after me the last time for not telling him. So this time I called him, and they did a thorough check, but they did not see any signs of the tachycardia.” Dr. Carrigan also had replaced the battery and a couple of leads for her pacemaker, and when she returned to Dr. Courtade for a follow up appointment, she learned that her heart was pumping more effectively as well. Overall, she feels much better, and is enjoying spending time doing her favorite things: cooking, working in the yard, and spending time with her granddaughter. About Dr. Carrigan, she remarks, “He’s an amazing man, he really is.” Arrhythmia Services at St. Elizabeth For more information about arrhythmia care at the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute, learn more now, or call (859) 331-3353.