An electrophysiologist is a healthcare provider who treats heart rhythm problems. It is a specialty of cardiology which deals with the study of the heart’s electrical system. The term “electrophysiology study” or “EP study” applies to any procedure that requires the insertion of an electrode catheters into the heart to make electrical measurements. Electrode catheters are long flexible wires that allow electrical measurements and stimulation of the heart muscle and its electrical system.
What does the heart’s electrical system do?
• Causes the heart to beat
• Controls the heart rate (the number of beats per minute)
• Has special pathways (conduction pathways) that carry the electrical signals throughout the lower heart chambers (ventricles) for each heartbeat
What is an Electrical System disorder?
An irregularity in the heart’s electrical system is called an arrhythmia, or heart rhythm disorder. Rhythm disorders can cause the heart to beat too slowly (Bradycardia) or too fast (Tachyarrhythmia).
When should you see an Electrophysiologist?
This healthcare provider only works with patients who need heart-related care. Your primary care provider may refer you to a cardiac EP if you have symptoms of heart rhythm problems, including dizziness, fatigue, and fluttering in your chest.
What conditions do Electrophysiologist diagnose and treat?
• Atrial Fibrillation: This is an irregular, fast heart rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart.
• Bradycardia: This is a heartbeat that is too slow.
• Tachycardia: This is a heartbeat that is too fast.
• Ventricular Tachycardia: This is a dangerous type of very fast heartbeat.
• Supraventricular Tachycardia: This is a sudden, very fast heartbeat from the top chambers of the heart
• Ventricular Fibrillation: This is a dangerous fluttering of the heart muscle that doesn’t let the heart pump blood. This condition can be fatal.
• Sudden Cardiac Arrest: This is when the heart suddenly stops beating.
• Long QT Syndrome: This is a disorder of the heart that can cause sudden arrhythmias.
• Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome: This is a condition that causes episodes of a fast heartbeat. These are caused by an extra electrical pathway in the heart.
• Other Arrhythmias: Arrhythmias can be caused by pregnancy, medicine interactions, or metabolic problems.
What type of cardiac testing, treatment, and procedures do Electrophysiologists perform?
•Medications: These can help control heart rhythm and prevent blood clots.
•Lifestyle Changes: Changes in diet or exercise can help with some heart rhythm problems.
•Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): This uses electrodes attached to your chest to record your heart’s electrical activity.
•Blood Tests: These are done to check the levels of certain minerals, enzymes, and other chemicals in your blood.
•Echocardiogram: This uses sound waves to show images of your heart structure and gives information about the heart’s function
•Stress Testing: This looks at how your heart performs when you stress it with exercise.
•Holter Monitor: This is a device you wear for 24 to 48 hours. It records your heartbeats using ECG.
•Event Recorder: This is a device you wear that records any abnormal rhythms of your heart. Typically this is worn for 7, 14, or 30 days consecutively.
•Electrophysiology Study: An electrophysiology (EP) study is an important procedure that allows cardiologists to examine the heart’s electrical activity in great detail. Invasive cardiac electrophysiology is a series of tests that can create a map of how electrical signals move between each heartbeat. This helps to ensure that the heart is functioning properly and that the timing of the heartbeats is accurate. With this procedure, cardiologists can gain a better understanding of the heart’s electrical system and make sure that it is working as it should.
•Tilt Table Testing: This looks at how the heart is affected when your body is moved from a lying position to a standing position on a tilting table.
•Implantable Loop Recorder: An implantable loop recorder is a small medical device that is surgically inserted beneath the skin. It is specifically designed to monitor and record the heart’s rhythm continuously over a long period of time (up to three years). The device offers a non-invasive way for medical professionals to track and diagnose any abnormalities with the heart’s activity. It is especially useful for those who may experience infrequent arrhythmias or other heart-related issues. The loop recorder is a safe and effective way to detect any irregularities with the heart, allowing for prompt and necessary intervention if required.
•Cardioversion: A medical procedure that can be used to help restore a regular heart rhythm. It involves delivering quick, low-energy electrical shocks to the heart through electrodes placed on the chest.
•Catheter Ablation: In this procedure, a thin tube (catheter) is put into a blood vessel in the groin and sent up to the heart. A small part of the heart that is causing arrhythmia is destroyed with radiofrequency or cold energy.
•Pacemaker: This is a small device that is surgically implanted in the chest to help regulate the heart’s rhythm. It works by sending electrical impulses to the heart to prevent it from beating too slowly. The pacemaker is placed under the skin in the chest and is connected to the heart with thin wires. Once implanted, the pacemaker is able to monitor and regulate the heart’s rhythm and can be adjusted with a remote control.
– Single Chamber
– Dual Chamber
•Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD): This is a small device that is put under the skin of the chest or in the abdomen. It can reset the heart rhythm when dangerous arrhythmias occur.
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