Lifespan’s electrophysiology and heart rhythm disturbances electrophysiologists, pacemaker and defibrillator implant physicians, nurses, and advanced electrophysiology fellows are among the most highly sought after in New England.
What Does an Electrophysiologist Do?
Also referred to as a cardiac electrophysiologist or cardiac EP, an electrophysiologist is a cardiologist who specializes in specifically testing, diagnosing, and treating arrhythmias. An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat.
An electrophysiologist is trained in the use of specialized devices and tests to measure cardiovascular activity.
Electrophysiologists often diagnose conditions like:
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib): A common heart rhythm disorder characterized by irregular heartbeats that don’t follow a pattern.
- Bradycardia: A slower-than-normal heartbeat, usually defined as under 40 beats per minute.
- Premature beats: Excess heartbeats that stem from various locations in the heart chambers.
- Ventricular tachycardia: Quicker-than-normal heart beats that come from the ventricle, usually defined as over 100 beats per minute.
What Is the Difference between a Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist?
Cardiologists are doctors who have specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions of the heart. Though they are trained to deal with all cardiovascular disease, a cardiologist will sometimes recommend an appointment with a cardiovascular subspecialist.
An electrophysiologist is a cardiologist who specializes in the treatment of arrhythmias and diagnosis of heart rhythm disorders.
Why Would I Be Referred to an Electrophysiologist?
There are a variety of reasons you may be referred to an electrophysiologist, including:
- A recent or upcoming heart surgery
- You’re experiencing symptoms of arrhythmia or a heart rhythm disorder
- Significant risk of cardiac arrest
- You’re being considered for cardiac ablation
- You may benefit from an implantable cardiac defibrillator or pacemaker
Arrhythmias can come with a wide range of symptoms, such as:
- Pounding in the chest
- Chest tightness or pain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
What Are Some Common Electrophysiology Procedures?
The right treatment for a heart rhythm disorder depends on a variety of factors—including whether you have a tachycardia (fast heartbeat) or bradycardia (slow heartbeat), if the arrhythmia is causing significant symptoms, or if the condition increases the risk of other cardiovascular issues.
Common electrophysiology procedures include:
- Electrophysiology (EP) Study: Also referred to as invasive cardiac electrophysiology, an EP study records electrical signals in the heart to assess electrical function and help determine the cause of an irregular heartbeat.
- Pacemaker implantation: A pacemaker is a small electronic device designed to help regulate the heart’s electrical issues. Most commonly implanted in the chest below the collarbone, a pacemaker essentially tells the heart to beat when the rhythm is irregular.
- Catheter ablation: A procedure employed to treat heart rhythm issues such as atrial fibrillation (AFib) that works by scarring small areas in the heart. Electrodes, or small wires, are placed in the heart to measure electrical activity. When the issue is discovered, the tissue in the abnormal area is destroyed.