At 16, Chelsea Parsons experienced an episode at a cross country meet in which her heart rate climbed to an alarming 200 beats per minute. Paramedics were able to bring it down, but she was referred to Sibley Heart Center Cardiology in Alpharetta for further cardiac evaluation. She was diagnosed with atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia (AVNRT), the most common type of supraventricular tachycardia.
AVNRT tends to occur more often in young women, and episodes often start and end suddenly. It occurs because of a reentrant electrical circuit located in or near the AV node that causes the heart to beat prematurely. The AV node is important in regulating the passage of electrical impulses from the upper (atria) to the lower (ventricles) chambers of the heart.
“We spent a couple of months of trying to work out how aggressive it was, if it was common and whether I could take medication for it or just deal with it,” Chelsea said. “After having a few more episodes, we decided for ablation.”
While she was nervous about going under anesthesia for the first time, Chelsea said the team at Sibley made her and her parents feel comfortable, and the ablation was a total success. She went home the same day and her arrhythmia has never returned.
A few years later, as a master’s degree student in public health at Emory, she was excited to see an internship posting at Sibley and decided to pursue it. She got the job with the wellness program and was eventually asked to extend her stay as a project specialist.
Chelsea said Sibley has provided her with much more than the “typical” intern’s experience by allowing her to work on outside projects, such as helping to write a study with Dr. William Border regarding physician burnout levels and ways to combat them. Chelsea spent a few months reviewing and analyzing physician data and eventually working on a manuscript summarizing the results.
I hope to get published, which will be something I can take with me into the rest of my career,” Chelsea said. “I like how everyone’s comfortable getting to know each other, and they really take the time to do that. Although I’m a graduate student, they take me very seriously and treat me professionally. It’s also a full circle moment working here because I’ve met another friend at work who was also a Sibley patient!”
For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.