HARLINGEN — Ever since Dr. Frank Mazzola, was about 7 years old, he knew he wanted to become a doctor.
During high school and his initial college experience, Mazzola took a route toward the medical field.
However, because music had always been another one of his passions, he decided to take a bit of a detour and pursue performing arts.
Upon completing his studies in music, Mazzola’s aspiration for becoming a doctor led him back toward his dream of working in the medical field.
Mazzola is board certified in cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology.
His skills and expertise as a cardiac electrophysiologist have led him to creating new opportunities for patients in the Rio Grande Valley.
In 1995, Mazzola built the Valley’s first Cardiac Electrophysiology Program.
“My first job out of training was down in McAllen. I was the first electrophysiologist in the Valley,” Mazzola said. “At that time, I was at the McAllen Medical Center. It was very successful.”
For Mazzola, it feels great to be able to create and build, which is why he decided to work in McAllen.
“I had some other job opportunities — university positions and things like that, but it was kind of a challenge to start up the program from scratch because people from the Valley would either have to go out of the Valley for their treatment like Houston or they just didn’t get treated,” he said. “Once I got here and they were able to actually treat people here, they didn’t have to leave the Valley and that was a wonderful thing.”
More recently, Mazzola has been the medical director of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Program at the Mission Regional Medical Center and the Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville.
Mazzola also established the Arrhythmia Center and Device Clinic at the South Heart Clinic and leads the South Texas Arrhythmia Institute at the Harlingen Medical Center.
“Right now at the Harlingen Medical Center we have the most advanced state of the art electrophysiology lab in the Valley and I can say that with confidence because we just upgraded our mapping system,” Mazzola said. “We do 3D mapping. It’s just really incredible what we’re able to do with the technology.”
Born in Brooklyn, Mazzola graduated from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music with a Bachelor’s Degree in music. He majored in piano performance with a minor in earth science.
Upon graduating in 1987 from the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine, Mazzola completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at New York University and Bellevue Hospital Center where he was a chief medical resident from 1990 to 1991.
From there, he completed a fellowship in cardiac electrophysiology and pacing from 1993 to 1994 at the University of Massachusetts and a second year in cardiac electrophysiology at the University of California in San Diego before arriving to the Valley in 1995.
Mazzola practices all aspects of cardiac electrophysiology including — catheter ablations and complex ablations for atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia, implantation of pacemakers, defibrillators and heart failure devices, management of complex pacemaker and defibrillator problems, laser lead extractions, management of fainting and clinical arrhythmia management.
Mazzola describes electrophysiology as being one of those things that is a little hard to understand in the beginning, but once you do understand it, it’s fascinating.
“That’s pretty much why I chose that field,” he said. “I liked physiology. I like everything about cardiology and then in my cardiology fellowship I did a rotation in electrophysiology and that kind of sparked my interest. That’s where I found my niche.”
Mazzola advises people to be alert for signs of heart rhythm problems, such as heart racing, palpitations, dizziness and fainting. He asks people not to ignore them because some arrhythmias can put people at risk for stroke or some of the worst things.
“We cure and help people, but in my field there are more things that we can do to actually cure people,” Mazzola said. “We’re the ones who have the advanced training and technology to do things to treat these arrhythmias that really just belong to our specialty. To me, that’s the most exciting thing, and that’s it’s an ever growing field.”