Health Matters

What is Electrophysiology (EP)?

Posted by Dr. David Adler on Jul 30, 2018 8:09:00 AM

When someone's heart doesn't beat normally, doctors use EP to find out why

If love isn't the reason your heart is racing, it could be an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. It's usually not dangerous, but can be scary. We can put your mind – and your heart – at ease. Electrical signals usually travel through the heart in a regular pattern. Heart attacks, aging and high blood pressure may cause scarring of the heart. This may cause the heart to beat in an irregular (uneven) pattern. Extra abnormal electrical pathways found in certain congenital heart defects can also cause arrhythmias.

DOCTORS USE EP TO SEE:

  • Where an arrhythmia is coming from.
  • How well certain medicines work to treat your arrhythmia.
  • If they should treat a problem by correcting abnormal electrical signals. This procedure is called catheter ablation.
  • If a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) might help you.
  • If you are at risk for heart problems such as fainting or sudden cardiac death due to cardiac arrest (when your heart stops beating).

At a hospital or clinic, doctors and nurses do EP in a room that has special equipment for the tests. You may hear this room called the electrophysiology laboratory, or EP lab. Some call it the catheterization laboratory (cath lab).

DURING THE TEST

  • A nurse will put an IV (intravenous line) in your arm. You’ll get medicine (a sedative) that will help you relax. But you’ll be awake and able to follow instructions during the test.
  • Your nurse will clean and shave the part of your body where the doctor will be working. This is usually in the groin but may be the arm or neck.
  • A local anesthetic will be given to make the area numb. Your doctor will make a needle puncture through your skin and into your blood vessel. A small straw-sized tube called a sheath will be inserted into your artery or vein. The doctor will gently guide several specialized EP catheters into your blood vessel through the sheath and advance them to your heart. A video screen will show the position of the catheters. You may feel some pressure in the area where the sheath was inserted, but you shouldn’t feel any pain.
  • Your doctor will send small electric pulses through the catheters to make your heart beat at different speeds. You may feel your heart beat stronger or faster.
  • Electrical signals produced by your heart will be picked up by the special catheters and recorded. This is called cardiac mapping and allows the doctor to locate where arrhythmias are coming from.
  • Your doctor will remove the catheters and the IV line. Your nurse will put pressure on the puncture site to stop any bleeding.
  • An EP study usually lasts 1 to 4 hours.

If the type and location of the arrhythmia is identified and an appropriate therapy decided, cardiac ablation or insertion of a pacemaker or ICD may be performed during or immediately after the EPS.

Dr. David Adler is a cardiologist on staff at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center

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Topics: Health Care 101, Cardiology




What is Coronary CT Angiography?

Posted by Dr. David Adler on Jul 23, 2018 8:03:00 AM

A better view of the heart leads to better care

Chest pain patients and their doctors now have a new tool in the war against heart disease. Coronary CT angiography enables physicians to see inside heart vessels without actually having to go inside the heart.

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Topics: Cardiology




Behind the Scenes of a Heart Attack

Posted by Dustin Harley, R.N. on May 28, 2018 7:23:00 AM

Learn What Any Hospital Should Do

Have you ever heard of “door-to-balloon time?” It’s that critical amount of time that it takes for a heart attack patient to get from an initial assessment into the Emergency Room, and it should be under 90 minutes. During this time, an accredited Chest Pain Center should begin an intricate set of steps to guide treatment once they receive their patient.

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Topics: Cardiology, Health Care 101




How The Movies Miss the Mark on Heart Attacks

Posted by Dr. Ronald McKechnie on Feb 26, 2018 7:18:00 AM

A grey-haired man falls to his knees, grabbing his chest in pain. That's what the script calls for, but the reality can be very different.

Movies often depict the traditional warning signs of a heart attack as major chest pressure or pain. But the signs of a heart attack can vary, and so too can the gender or age of the heart patient who has one.

If you experience any of the following symptoms (particularly very suddenly or severely) it is of utmost importance that you seek medical help straight away because you very well could be having a heart attack.

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Topics: Cardiology, Health Care 101




6 Heart Attack Warning Signs that are Unique to Women

Posted by Dr. David Adler on Nov 27, 2017 7:28:00 AM

It isn’t just a guy thing. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both women and men in the United States. 

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of women believe this is the greatest health problem facing them today. And that’s concerning, because while the overall death rate from heart disease has decreased in men, it continues to increase in women.

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Topics: Cardiology, Women's Health




8 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Quit Smoking

Posted by Dr. Susan Ziglar on Oct 8, 2017 10:00:00 PM

Thanks to various anti-smoking campaigns over the years, we are all aware of the impact that quitting can have on cancer and heart disease reduction. However, you may not be aware that your risks for these diseases can lessen quite quickly. It often comes as a surprise to our patients that quitting, even after many years of smoking, can make a huge impact.

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Topics: Cardiology, Family Health 101, Lifestyle & Wellness, Lung Health, Smoking




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