Arrhythmias represent a substantial health need in our community. The specific treatment of patients whose cardiovascular condition affects the electrical functions of the heart and interferes with normal heartbeat is called electrophysiology (EP). At The Heart & Vascular Center, a cardiac electrophysiologist works in a catheterization lab specially equipped with heart mapping technology for EP procedures. This technology helps the physician better diagnose abnormalities. Cardiologists with a special interest in heart arrhythmias perform a significant number of diagnostic studies and device implants to treat patients with heart rhythm disorders. No matter the procedure, rest assured you will be cared for by expert physicians who are assisted by experienced staff, all devoted to high quality, individualized patient care.
Download our Electrophysiology brochure to learn more.
We have three catheterization labs and, when current hospital expansion is complete, will have additional labs to care for patients. Inside these labs, we have installed the latest, state-of-the-art technology and digital imaging equipment. Using the high quality images produced by this technology, physicians can see clearly inside the body to diagnose cardiovascular conditions and decide how best to treat them. At The Heart & Vascular Center, physicians and staff are committed to reducing the radiation dose patients experience in nuclear cardiology procedures as much as possible. Intravenous Ultrasound is an example of technology that can be used to improve accuracy of what the physician sees without increasing radiation dosage.
Diagnostic Electrophysiology Studies
The Diagnostic EP Study is a procedure that is sometimes performed for patients who have been diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). It will help the doctor determine the location of the arrhythmia and recommend the best method of treatment. An EP study may last anywhere from one to three hours.
Using catheters placed into the right side of the heart, physicians perform programmed electrical stimulation (PES) to determine the electrical properties of the heart and to initiate abnormal heart rhythms.
Permanent Pacemaker Implants
A pacemaker is a device that sends small electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate or to stimulate the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). A pacemaker may also be used to treat fainting spells (syncope), congestive heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. There are different types of pacemakers, and your doctor will decide what type of pacemaker you need based on your heart condition. Your doctor also determines the minimum rate (lowest heart rate) to set your pacemaker. When your heart rate drops below the set rate, the pacemaker generates an impulse that passes through the lead to the heart muscle. After the pacemaker implant procedure, the doctor uses an external device (programmer) to program final pacemaker settings. The procedure to implant a pacemaker generally lasts approximately two hours but may last longer.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) Implants
An ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) is an electronic device that constantly monitors your heart rhythm. When it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers energy to the heart muscle. This causes the heart to beat in a normal rhythm again. Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation are two life-threatening heart rhythms that cause the heart to beat very fast. These conditions require urgent treatment or death can occur. There are different types of ICDs, and your doctor will choose a device based on your condition. For Heart & Vascular Center patients receiving an ICD, cardiologists make small incisions in the chest where the lead (or leads) and device are inserted. The lead is inserted through the incision and into a vein and is then guided to the heart. The lead tip is attached to the heart muscle, while the other end of the lead is attached to the pulse generator. The generator is placed in a pocket created under the skin in the upper chest. The procedure to implant an ICD generally lasts approximately two hours but may last longer.
Ablation is a treatment approach that involves identifying and eliminating cardiac arrhythmias using radio frequency or cryothermal energy sources. A cardiac electrophysiologist is assisted by specially trained staff in ablating tissue identified as the source of arrhythmias. The goal of ablation is to redirect electrical patterns causing arrhythmias so that the heart beats normally again. Catheter ablations are performed for patients experiencing atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and supraventricular tachycardia.
For cardiovascular information or referral to a cardiovascular specialist, please call Consult-A-Nurse® at (800) 611-6913.