Focus on K2P Faculty: Dr. Nishant Verma
Nishant Verma, MD, MPH, is the section editor for CurrentMD Cardiology’s Arrhythmia and EP track. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University and serves as the Clinical Cardiology Electrophysiology Fellowship Director and the Director of the EP Lab at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.
His clinical practice focuses on all aspects of cardiac dysrhythmias including atrial fibrillation/flutter, SVT, ventricular arrhythmias, bradycardia and genetic arrhythmic syndromes. His clinical interests include complex catheter ablation of atrial and ventricular arrhythmias and novel device therapies. His research interests include catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation, particularly new technologies aimed at mitigating extracardiac complications. In addition, he an interest in conduction system pacing, particularly as an alternative to cardiac resynchronization therapy.
What would you like learners to take from the talk on prevention and risk management in atrial fibrillation?
I think the big takeaway is just how important risk factor management is for overall AFib treatment success. There’s a lot of focus on the traditional treatment paradigms, like medications and ablation procedures, but I think equally important is the risk factor modification that you do before you even consider those therapies. I was very excited to include that content in K2P’s arrhythmia track and I really hope that people get that message, because I think it’s very important to communicate that to patients before we start treatment for AFib.
Do you have any kind of best practices for atrial fibrillation prevention that you’d like to share?
A lot of patients want to know about lifestyle modifications or maybe changes to their diet that are important. So, I think highlighting the more recent understanding of the association of alcohol use and atrial fibrillation is a big one that I do frequently in the clinic, touching on caffeine because that is something patients frequently ask about, and also explaining the importance of and the appropriate amount of exercise in AFib management. And then making sure that people understand that other medical conditions also need to be controlled, and these would include high blood pressure, weight, diabetes, as well as evaluations for sleep apnea.
Have there been any really great advances let’s say in the last five years in the management of atrial fibrillation?
I think some of the new ablation technologies have improved the efficiency of the procedure. There’s not one clear winner in terms of overall success rates, but the efficiency and safety of the procedure are equally important and some of our ablation technologies, particularly ones that are on the near-term horizon, afford us the possibility of having very quick, safe and effective procedures.
If you had one message to get out there for AF awareness month, what would that message be?
I think to remember that risk factor reduction is important, but also remember that one of the major cornerstones of atrial fibrillation management is stroke prophylaxis.
What was the greatest advice you were given by a mentor that still holds true today?
In terms of what you do on a daily basis, whether it’s academics or clinical work, always gravitate to the things that you enjoy doing because you will have a much more happiness and success in doing something you believe in. So, for academic pursuits, focusing on a topic that you enjoy researching is probably more important than chasing a topic that you think will get published. This has held true for both my clinical practice, academic pursuits and educational efforts.
What career would you have chosen if you hadn’t chosen to become a physician?
Easy. A high school science teacher.
What is an interesting fact about you?
When I was 24, I went on a trip to Europe where I went to 16 different cities in 30 days.
And, finally, how has your career been different than you expected?
That’s a great question. I think I always knew I loved clinical medicine. I always knew I loved procedures, but what I have learned is that my favorite aspect of my job is actually teaching. So, I am lucky that I am the fellowship director for electrophysiology, and I get to teach our fellows more or less on a daily basis. Also being involved in projects like K2P allows me the opportunity to educate an even broader audience than what I had originally imagined.