About Cardiac Electrophysiology

Cardiac electrophysiology is a medical specialty which deals with problems related to the electrical system of the heart. The heart’s electrical system is the basis for the continued steady beating of the heart — disturbances of that rhythm are called arrhythmias, and an electrophysiologist (or “EP” for short) focuses his or her attention on controlling or preventing arrhythmias.

About Arrhythmias

Disturbances of the heart’s normal rhythm may cause significant symptoms such as a pounding in the chest and dizziness, or they may produce no symptoms at all. Some arrhythmias (such as those originating in the lower chambers of the heart) may be very dangerous, potentially even resulting in sudden cardiac arrest. Many arrhythmias, however, especially those originating in the upper chambers of the heart, are only rarely life-threatening.

Treatments for Arrhythmias

Modern electrophysiology offers many options for the treatment of heart rhythm disorders. These often include special medications called antiarrhythmics which affect the function of different parts of the electrical system of the heart. Other options may include procedures known as electrophysiology studies (EP studies) to help diagnose arrhythmias and ablation procedures which are designed to actually cure certain arrhythmias.

For very slow heart rhythms, a pacemaker may be used to correct the problem. In some cases, where the potential exists for a sudden cardiac arrest (such as in patients with weakened hearts) a special device called an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be required.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy

Heart failure is a major problem in this country, and there are literally thousands of new patients diagnosed with this problem every year. The primary treatment for heart failure remains medication, but in many cases, patients may benefit from a special type ofpacemakerg which helps the two lower chambers of the heart work together better. This technology is called biventricular pacing, and it results in synchronized beating of the two main pumping chambers of the heart. Resynchronization can result in a major quality of life improvements and longer lifespans.