An abnormal heart rhythm, also known as a heart arrhythmia, is when your heart beats too fast, too slow, or simply irregularly because your electrical impulses are not working properly. Oftentimes, an irregular heartbeat can cause a fluttering or racing heart, or no symptoms at all. It can be harmless, but sometimes an abnormal heart rhythm can be irritating and even life-threatening. When this is the case, an electrophysiology study is required. An electrophysiology study is a procedure that examines the heart’s electrical activity to help determine the cause of abnormal heart rhythms. Let’s take a closer look at this type of procedure and what it involves.
What Does an Electrophysiology Study Involve?
A cardiac electrophysiology study can analyze the heart, determine the cause of an irregular heartbeat, and treat the issue in the same setting. To begin the procedure, several plastic catheters are inserted into the patient’s heart through veins at the top of the legs. Then, the catheters are hooked up to a computer to analyze the electrical activity of the patient’s heart. If and when the cause of the abnormal heart rhythm is identified, treatment can take place in the same setting through a radiofrequency ablation, which is highly curable in many cases. There are several other types of studies that can be performed to treat heart arrhythmia. Let’s take a closer look at each of them to get a better idea of cardiac electrophysiology studies.
If the patient is experiencing a slower heart rhythm, then a pacemaker is the appropriate treatment. A pacemaker is a small device that is placed under the skin below the left or right collar bone to help control a patient’s slow heart rhythm. This type of implantation requires a surgical procedure.
ICD (Defibrillator) Implantation
ICD’s, also known as cardiac defibrillators, are used to treat both slow and fast heart rhythms. Although ICD’s are a bit larger than pacemakers, they are both implanted in the same general area. Unlike pacemakers, an ICD can speed up as well as slow down a patient’s irregular heart rhythm, depending on the treatment they need.
Although the chances of this occurring are low, if an ICD or pacemaker becomes infected, a device extraction may become necessary. The extraction requires special expertise and tools, however, it does not cause injury to the body.
Cardiac resynchronization is used to treat patients with weak heart muscles or shortness of breath. During this procedure, an ICD that is specifically designed for cardiac resynchronizations is implanted below the collarbone. Patients who receive this treatment can enjoy a steadier heartbeat and regular breathing.
Now that you know the ins and outs of an electrophysiology study, you may be wondering where the best place is to receive one. AMS Cardiology is one of the leading cardiologist groups that serve Lansdale and the surrounding areas. For over 50 years, we have been preventing and treating all aspects of cardiovascular disease. Contact us today at (215) 517-1000 to learn more about our electrophysiology studies or to schedule an appointment.