Cardiac electrophysiology studies are tests that help the doctors understand the abnormal heart rhythms, also known as arrhythmias.
These tests are useful because it can help the doctor determine the appropriate treatment for you. This may include prescribing you medication, inserting certain devices such as a pacemaker or cardioverter-defibrillator, or an ablation. Pacemakers and cardioverter-defibrillators are small devices that are placed underneath the skin. As the pacemaker name suggests, it makes or keeps the pace of your heart. Cardioverter-defibrillators senses whether or not your heart is beating at an adequate rate, if your heart beats too fast or fall too low, shocks will be delivered to restart your heart beat. Certain congenitally, or acquired abnormal electrical pathways may cause arrhythmia prompting a cardiac ablation procedure.
Who needs it?
EPS is recommended if:
- You have complaints of an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia
- You have an abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG)
What to expect before, during, and after?
Prior to the scheduled procedure, you will be asked to come by the office to speak to us regarding how to best prepare. The doctor will explain the procedure to you in detail and review your most recent test results and lab work to see if any other precautionary steps are needed. You may need to make certain changes to your diet or medication regime. Direct instructions will be provided by our office. Since these procedures are performed in a hospital, it is best to make arrangements for a ride both to and from the hospital.
A thin tube, also known as a catheter, is passed through your femoral vein in your groin into your heart from below. Once inside of the heart, the doctor is able to send electronic pulses through the catheters to make your heart beat at variable strengths and speeds. Special catheters can pick up signals that can be recorded and help the doctor figure out where in the heart the problem is coming from – this is called cardiac mapping.
Usually after the procedure is done, you will have to remain in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours for observation. An echocardiogram will be performed before your discharge just to make sure that there aren’t any abnormalities present, such as something called pericardial effusion, or fluid around the heart sac. All patients are prescribed baby aspirins (81mg) to be taken for an immediate timeframe after the procedure or lifelong. DO NOT DRIVE FOR AT LEAST 24 HOURS AFTER THE PROCEDURE.
Are there any risks I should be aware of?
As with all procedures, there is a risk, but these rarely carry any serious adverse events.
Some complications include:
- Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms
- Blood clot formations
- Infection, bleeding, bruising at the catheter insertion site