10-Minute Interview: Jamie Beth Conti, MD, FACC, FHRS

Interview by Jodie Elrod
Interview by Jodie Elrod
In this interview we speak with Jamie Beth Conti, MD, FACC, FHRS, Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at the University of Florida. Why did you choose to work in the field of cardiac electrophysiology? When I started my general cardiology fellowship in 1990, cardiac electrophysiology was still a relatively young field. I found arrhythmias fascinating, and that was that. Coronary disease and imaging just couldn’t compete with the diversity of problems that electrophysiologists deal with on a daily basis. Describe your role as chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine. What is a typical day like for you? My role as chief is to facilitate the work of the faculty. I consider myself working for them, not the other way around. I spend a great deal of time advocating for faculty, fellows and staff, improving our service line, our patient satisfaction, and our training program. What is the most memorable case you have ever worked on? I had the pleasure of taking care of a rather elderly gentlemen several years ago, who appeared to be demented when I first met him. He refused to accept the fact that he had a ventricular tachycardia, he refused an ICD, and he left the hospital against medical advice. After the third such episode, his wife insisted he listen. We implanted a biventricular ICD, and after learning more about him, we learned he could quote Homer and play concert level violin. This case inspired the research that Dr. Samuel Sears and I pursued subsequently looking at improvement in cognitive function with biventricular pacing and better brain perfusion. What aspects of your work do you find most rewarding? What aspects are most challenging? The most rewarding times are when patients tell me they are better. However, some of our patients are so complex, it is impossible to really change their quality of life. I find these cases the most challenging and the most frustrating. Are you currently involved in any electrophysiology- or cardiology-related research projects or trials? Which ones? Some of the trials we participate in include: Vest Prevention of Early Sudden Death and PREDiction of ICD Therapies (VEST/PREDICTS); A Randomized Controlled Trial of Radiofrequency Ablation for the Treatment of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation Using the Bard High Density Mesh Ablation System (MAGELLAN); the RISK trial; Assessment of Proper Physiologic Response With Rate Adaptive Pacing Driven by Minute Ventilation or Accelerometer (APPROPRIATE); and Response of Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Optimization With V-V Timing in Heart Failure Patients (RESPONSE HF). In addition, Dr. Sears and I still collaborate on many projects involving the psychological manifestations of defibrillator implantation. I also have a very strong interest in pregnancy and arrhythmias. What advancements do you hope to see in the field of cardiac electrophysiology in the next five years? What specific areas of electrophysiology and/or patient care need more attention? I would like to see better risk stratification strategies for sudden cardiac death, and better outcomes in atrial fibrillation ablation. Are there any particular Web sites or texts you would recommend to others in the field of electrophysiology? There are so many wonderful textbooks out there, it is hard to choose. If I had to pick a few, I would recommend Dr. Douglas Zipes’s Cardiac Electrophysiology: From Cell to Bedside, Dr. Mark Josephson’s Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Dr. David Hayes’ Cardiac Pacing, Defibrillation and Resynchronization: A Clinical Approach, and Dr. Ken Ellenbogen’s Clinical Cardiac Pacing, Defibrillation and Resynchronization Therapy. What advice would you give to EP allied professionals who are currently at the start of their career? My advice is to choose a mentor who loves to teach. Has anyone in particular been helpful to you in your growth as an electrophysiology professional? Bill Miles is an absolute inspiration to work with. His devotion to teaching, patient care and ablation is phenomenal. I learn from him and with him every day, and hope to do so for a long time to come. Is there anything else you'd like to add? Although I’ve had many role models in my career, not all of them have been cardiac electrophysiologists. The other three people who have helped guide my career are my father (ischemic heart disease), Dr. Carl Pepine (ischemic heart disease) and Dr. Marian Limacher (imaging and prevention). All have been trusted advisors throughout my career, although decidedly outside of the discipline of cardiac electrophysiology. For more information about the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Florida, please visit: www.medicine.ufl.edu/cardio