Why are cardiac electrophysiology procedures performed?
Millions of people experience irregular heartbeats from time to time and live healthy lives free of heart disease; however, some individuals experience abnormal heart beats or arrhythmias, which may require them to undergo a cardiac electrophysiology procedure. Cardiac electrophysiology procedures may be appropriately performed for many indications related to the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.
There are three basic causes of rhythm disorders that can lead to the need for treatment: electrical, circulatory and structural. A change in the heart’s electrical pathway may cause an irregular or erratic heartbeat. In the case of coronary artery disease, a lack of oxygenated blood circulating to the muscle of the heart may lead to muscle damage, poor heart function and a rhythm disorder. And finally, any change(s) to the normal structure of the heart, as would occur in individuals with cardiomyopathies or congenital heart disease, could result in a rhythm disorder.
- Testing includes non-invasive and invasive diagnostic procedures that evaluate at patient’s heart rhythm and are performed under the direction of cardiac electrophysiologists (physicians trained and credentialed in the field of cardiac electrophysiology).
- Ablation is an invasive procedure to treat an abnormal heart rhythm. A specialized catheter is inserted into a patient’s vein and is used to treat a damaged or injured area within the heart’s electrical pathway.
- Device Implantation is an invasive procedures performed to regulate heart rate and rhythm. Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Devices (ICD) are comprised of two basic components: a battery and wires (leads). The battery is inserted under the skin and the leads are connected to the heart. The battery is then programed to send electrical pulses to the tips of the leads, which stimulate the heart and regulate the heart rate and rhythm.
- American Heart Association Journal; Circulation circ.ahajournals.org/content/102/18/2309.full)
- American Heart Association Patient Information Conditions www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/ AboutArrhythmia/About-Arrhythmia_UCM_002010_Article.jsp)
- Heart Rhythm Society Patient Resources (www.hrsonline.org/Patient-Resources/Heart-Diseases-Disorders#axzz3c0N0v5ha)
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology (content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1659563)
- National Institutes of Health (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21707667)