Clinical cardiac electrophysiology focuses on diagnosing and treating abnormalities known as arrhythmias in the electrical system of the heart. Clinical cardiac electrophysiologists employ various diagnostic techniques, such as electrophysiological studies and cardiac mapping, to identify the underlying causes of abnormal heart rhythms.
You may be referred to an electrophysiologist if you are experiencing certain symptoms or conditions including:
- Irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia
- Fainting, or syncope
- Risk of sudden cardiac death
Doctors at Aiken Physicians Alliance use the following treatments to help restore and maintain normal heart rhythm.
Medications are commonly used to manage and treat heart arrhythmias, depending on the type and severity of the arrhythmia. These treatments may include antiarrhythmic drugs, which are designed to suppress or regulate abnormal heart rhythms, or anticoagulants, which may be prescribed to reduce the risk of blood clots.
Pacemakers are small medical devices that help regulate and control abnormal heart rhythms. The main function of a pacemaker is to monitor the heart’s electrical activity and, if necessary, deliver electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a normal rhythm, essentially acting as an artificial electrical system for the heart.
Defibrillators are medical devices used to deliver an electric shock to the heart in order to restore normal heart rhythm in cases of life-threatening arrhythmias. These devices work by delivering a high-energy electric shock to the heart, momentarily stopping the abnormal electrical activity and allowing the heart’s natural pacemaker to reestablish a normal rhythm.
The use of defibrillators is critical in time-sensitive emergencies like sudden cardiac arrest. Prompt defibrillation significantly improves the chances of survival for individuals experiencing life-threatening arrhythmias.
Cardiac ablation is a medical procedure used to treat arrhythmias by destroying or interrupting the abnormal tissue responsible for generating the faulty electrical signals. The goal of cardiac ablation is to create a controlled scar in the heart tissue that blocks the abnormal electrical signals while leaving the healthy heart tissue unaffected. By interrupting the faulty pathways, the heart can return to its normal rhythm.
Noninvasive electrophysiology refers to the use of external recording techniques to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart without invasive procedures. These techniques are valuable in diagnosing many types of arrhythmias and providing initial information about the heart’s electrical patterns.
Invasive electrophysiology involves procedures using specialized catheters and other instruments to access the heart’s electrical system directly. These procedures are used when noninvasive tests are inconclusive or when specific interventions are necessary to diagnose and treat arrhythmias. Invasive procedures can provide more detailed information about the heart’s electrical activity and allow for precise localization of arrhythmia sources than noninvasive techniques.
The WATCHMAN™ Procedure
The WATCHMAN™ procedure is a surgical treatment designed to decrease the likelihood of stroke for individuals with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. It is also used as an alternative to extensive use of blood thinners. The procedure entails the permanent implantation of a small device into the heart to seal off the left atrial appendage and prevent blood clots from moving to the bloodstream.