Considered the electricians of the team, cardiac electrophysiologists focus on the electrical activities of the heart through the assessment and regulation of your heart's rhythms.
Your heart regulates functions like blood pressure and rhythm by communicating with the nervous system through electrical impulses. Patients experiencing problems with blood pressure or heart rate, known as arrhythmias, may experience dizziness, palpitations and fainting.
Diagnosing arrhythmias can involve simple tests like a tilt-table procedure or more complex tests, such as monitoring the heart's function through catheterization or performing an electrophysiology study with possible ablation.
An electrophysiology study (EPS) is a test used to determine how well the electrical signals are working in the heart, specifically looking at abnormal heart rhythms.
An EPS allows Mount Nittany Health’s cardiologists to study where the arrhythmias are located in the heart, what kind of arrhythmia the patient has, as well as determine which type of procedure or medication may help stop the arrhythmia.
The study is performed by using an electrophysiology catheter, which is inserted into a patient’s leg through the femoral vein and threaded into the heart. The catheter stimulates the heart and causes an arrhythmia, allowing physicians to record where in the heart the abnormal rhythm began.
These types of tests can play a critical role in diagnosing problems before they become life-threatening.
When it comes to treating or controlling an arrhythmia, some patients require only medication. Other options that your physician may suggest include implanting a device such as a pacemaker, cardiac defibrillator (ICD), or loop recorder, or in some cases, the physician may suggest a procedure called catheter ablation.
Catheter ablation is a treatment option that may be used to correct a heart arrhythmia when a patient’s arrhythmia can’t be controlled by medication or if they are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
The procedure works by destroying – through heat – the place inside the heart that causes the abnormal rhythm.
It’s important to note that catheter ablation alone doesn’t always correct the arrhythmia right away. A combination of treatment methods as well as repeat ablations may be necessary, depending upon each patient’s individual case.
Implant procedures and catheter ablation are performed at Mount Nittany Medical Center, and patients can see their cardiologist for device management, if necessary.