“I developed a vested interest in that sub-specialty,” he said of his decision to pursue a career in electrophysiology. “Quite often, abnormal heart rhythms are not life-threatening, but they can impair the quality of life.”
Atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia can be treated with medications to help the heart beat regularly or through procedures such as cardiac ablations to correct the problem that is causing an irregular heartbeat.
“When we diagnose an arrhythmia, the next step is how to best manage that condition, what we can do to prevent it from becoming a life-threatening condition,” Loka said.
Most patients with irregular heartbeats are referred to electrophysiologists by their primary-care doctors after seeing a cardiologist who has ruled out other conditions such as blocked arteries.
“One of the most common conditions we see is atrial fibrillation,” Loka said of the arrhythmia that causes the heart’s upper chambers to contract abnormally. “In and of itself, it is not life-threatening, but treatment is important to prevent future problems.”
Many people suffering from irregular heartbeats developed the problem following some other heart issue, such as a heart attack that has weakened the heart muscle.
But there is a second group of people who may have a potential problem for developing an arrhythmia, including active and otherwise healthy young adults, Loka noted.
Following his training in cardiology, Loka traveled to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where he specialized in electrophysiology.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is the same university where Dr. Samer Siouffi trained. Siouffi has been practicing at the CVPH Heart Center for the past six years, and it is that connection that brought Loka to the North Country.
“My program director knew that I wanted to work in a community hospital in the Northeast,” he said, noting that he has a son living in Montreal, and finding a job close to his son was one of the priorities he considered.