CHDs Can Show Up in Teens, the Heart Center is There to Help

Nicole had episodes of a racing heartbeat now and then during her childhood, but she didn’t know what it was or how to talk about it with her mom. When Nicole was 15, she happened to have an episode when she was at the doctor getting her annual flu shot, and she learned there was a word for what she was experiencing: Tachycardia.

Tachycardia is the medical term for a heart rate over 100 beats per minute. In some cases, tachycardia may cause no symptoms or complications. But if left untreated, tachycardia can disrupt normal heart function and lead to serious, life-threatening complications.

Peter Fischbach, MD, Director of Electrophysiology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center, recommended ablation surgery for Nicole to treat her condition and restore a normal heart rhythm.

“It was shocking and scary initially because surgery is a serious thing,” Nicole said. “It made me anxious, but Dr. Fischbach has a very good bedside manner. He explained the surgery, and we talked about when it would be scheduled. He related to me as a teenager with a lot going on, and he used his sense of humor to put my mind at ease. In the meantime, they taught me about breathing techniques to alleviate my anxiety, which can make the rapid heartbeat happen more often.”

Nicole’s surgery was successful, and she followed up with Sibley Heart Center Cardiology until she was an adult.In college, she transferred to adult care, and she was released from cardiac care after a few years. 

After the ablation, Nicole gained the confidence to take up activities like running, Jiu Jitsu, community gardening and travel. She now works for a meal kit delivery service and is learning to become a doula. Nicole says she wants to work in healthcare so she can help families and children like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center helped her.

“I realize with my heartbeat getting that fast, I could’ve had a heart attack and lost my life,” Nicole said. “I had an adventurous spirit before, but my experience made me even more grateful to keep living, and I love trying new things without having to worry about my heart. I’ve continued to try to live life to the fullest ever since. At the Heart Center, they do everything they can to make sure you’re well cared for and that you feel comfortable.”

For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.