News | Published February 11, 2014

New cardiology services target abnormal heart rhythms

Mount Nittany Health is pleased to announce the addition of electrophysiology studies and catheter ablation to the complement of cardiology services at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

An electrophysiology study (often abbreviated 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 physicians to study where the irregular heart rhythms—called 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 the 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,” said Charles Nydegger, MD, cardiology, Mount Nittany Physician Group.

A number of factors including a previous heart attack, high blood pressure, or aging may lead to scarring in the heart, which can ultimately cause an arrhythmia.

If an arrhythmia is confirmed through an EPS, there are a number of treatment options that may help to correct the arrhythmia. Treatment may include medication, pacemaker, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or a procedure called catheter ablation.

Catheter ablation is a procedure that treats the arrhythmia by destroying—through heat—the place inside the heart that causes the abnormal rhythm.

“If medication doesn’t control a patient’s arrhythmia, or if the patient is at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, catheter ablation may be suggested,” said Dr. Nydegger.

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.

For more information on cardiology services at Mount Nittany Health, please visit