An arrhythmia is any deviation from or disturbance of the normal heart rhythm. The basic rhythm of the heart is a tightly regulated phenomenon designed to insure maximal efficiency and optimal performance. It is a dynamic phenomenon that changes according to the metabolic needs of the body. The cardiac rhythm involves several different microscopic and macroscopic structures within the normal heart. Arrhythmias may be benign, symptomatic, life threatening or even fatal. Their consequences depend not only on their manifestation but on the presence of important abnormal structural conditions of the heart.
Electrophysiology (EP) is a subspecialty of cardiology which examines the electrical activity of the heart by recording it from within the heart chambers.
To conduct Electrophysiology (EP) studies electrode catheters (long flexible wires) are introduced into the veins and placed under X–ray guidance into the heart. They are used to study abnormal heart rhythms under controlled situations to diagnose specific problems with the heart’s electrical system. The study is a diagnostic test which can be accompanied by the infusion of medications to test what therapies are best and also in conjunction with Radio Frequency Ablation.
- Your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain medications before your Electrophysiology study to ensure more accurate results. Electrophysiology studies require that you have an empty stomach. In most cases you will not be permitted to eat or drink anything after midnight. It’s important to get a good night’s sleep.
- Hospital admission usually occurs the same day as your test. During the EP study you will be awake, but you may be given a medication to help you relax. Electrodes will monitor your heart rhythm and rate. This may require that some areas be shaved in preparation.
- Prior to the test, an intravenous (IV) line will be started through which your physician can administer medications or extra fluids you may need.
- In preparation for the study, the groin area is sterilized and numbed so a catheter can be inserted.
- Remember you will be safely monitored in the Electrophysiology lab by a highly–trained team of doctors, nurses and technicians throughout the procedure.
- Electrophysiology studies usually last from two to four hours. After the catheters are removed, pressure will be applied to the puncture site just long enough to stop the bleeding. No stitches are required but a sterile dressing will be applied and can be removed the next day.