Heart arrhythmias are surprisingly common, affecting as many as one in 18 Americans. While these abnormal heart rhythms are common, they’re usually treatable. When a person is experiencing an abnormal heart rhythm, in-depth information about the heart is needed to help make a diagnosis and determine a treatment plan. Information, such as the source of the arrhythmia, where it originates and the presence of other cardiovascular disease, can all be evaluated with an electrophysiology study.
Electrophysiology testing is used to help understand the heart’s inner mechanisms and what is causing its electrical systems to misfire.
These in-depth studies used to evaluate the electrical activity in your heart and they can help your cardiologist and other providers determine what is causing an arrhythmia, where in the heart the rhythm is being disrupted and the type of treatment that may work best in your specific case.
Electrophysiology studies are performed in the cardiac catheterization lab utilizing the latest technology to monitor heart rhythm, blood pressure and other vital signs.
In order to treat an arrhythmia effectively, the electrophysiologist needs to identify its source. Because of this, any person experiencing a heart rhythm disruption is a candidate for an electrophysiology study.
EP studies are typically recommended after other heart health tests, such as an EKG, stress test, angiogram or Holter monitor, don’t reveal enough information about the heart to confirm a diagnosis.
During an electrophysiology study, you will be sedated to help you relax, though you will remain awake. An electrophysiologist will carefully insert small tubes called catheters into an artery or vein through a sheath. The catheters will then be slowly guided toward the heart, as the medical team uses high-definition video to monitor their position.
Once the catheters are in place, small electric pulses will be sent through the tubes. These pulses stimulate the heart to beat at different speeds, and you’ll likely be aware that your heart is beating differently. During this time, signals produced by your heart will be recorded with cardiac mapping.
These cardiac maps help your doctor identify where an arrhythmia is occurring, as well as the type of arrhythmia you’re experiencing.
EP studies are performed under carefully monitored circumstances, and they are typically very safe. You may experience bleeding, bruising or infection at the site of the catheter insertion, which is typically the groin but sometimes the wrist. After your procedure, our care team will ensure your safe and comfortable recovery before discharge.
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