Electrophysiology (EP)

Have you ever felt like your heart is beating too fast or too slow? Does its rhythm seem unusual to you?

If so, there may be a problem with your heart’s electrical system, which is called an arrhythmia.  These heart rhythm problems can have a wide range of effects, from simply making you feel weak, to total heart failure.

The symptoms of arrhythmia can include:

  • Palpitations (a sensation of fluttering or irregularity of the heartbeat)
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Heart failure
  • Collapse and cardiac arrest

Because issues with the heart’s electrical system are complex and serious health conditions, we specialize exclusively in electrophysiology. In fact, we were among the first heart hospitals in Phoenix to build dedicated, advanced electrophysiology labs into our heart treatment centers.

Our electrophysiologists specialize in:

  • Evaluation and treatment of atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias
  • Management of antiarrhythmic medications
  • Electrophysiology studies
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Implantation and management of pacemakers and cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD)
  • Intracardiac echocardiograms 

How Electrophysiology Studies Work

If you’re suffering from an irregular heartbeat, your physician may ask you to undergo an electrophysiology study to get a clear picture of what’s happening with your heart.

Here are the basic steps:

  • At the start of the study, you’ll lie down on a bed and a nurse will begin an intravenous (IV) line into your arm or hand. This allows us to administer drugs and fluids during the procedure. You’ll be given a sedative to help you relax and connected to several monitors.
  • Your groin will be shaved and cleaned with an antiseptic solution, and sterile drapes will cover you from your neck to your feet. A soft strap will be placed across your waist and arms to keep your hands from touching the sterile area.
  • The electrophysiologist will numb the skin in your groin, and insert several catheters into the vein beneath the skin. Those will sense the electrical activity in your heart, and help the electrophysiologist evaluate your heart’s conduction system.
  • The electrophysiologist will use a pacemaker to deliver electrical impulses through one catheter to increase your heart rate. This means you’ll feel your heart beating faster, or stronger. The doctor and nurses will be talking to you, and will want to know how you are feeling. If your arrhythmia occurs, you may be given medications so that the treatment team can see how effective they are in controlling it. If necessary, a small amount of energy will be delivered by patches in your chest to bring back your normal heart rhythm.
  • Based on the information collected, the doctor may perform an ablation or implant a pacemaker or ICD.

The entire procedure takes between two and four hours, maybe longer if additional treatments are performed at the same time. Afterward, you’ll rest for one to two hours. Then you’ll be free to go home once follow-up appointments have been scheduled and you’ve met with discharge planners to make sure you understand everything that’s happened, the medications you need to take and other post-discharge issues.

Expert Care With A Personal Touch

At Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital, we take a patient-centered, collaborative approach to provide the best outcomes. Our unique care includes assigning each patient a dedicated Nurse Navigator who is an acute care nurse practitioner. This means:
  • Your Nurse Navigator will guide you through the entire care process, from scheduling appointments to providing education for the family.
  • You will always see a familiar face and can reach your Nurse Navigator.
  • Your Nurse Navigator will provide continuity of care after your procedure, with follow ups at 30 days and also one year.

Jeff's Electrophysiology Story

Jeff is now back in the air doing what he loves to do after electrophysiologists at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital performed an ablation on his heart correcting his rhythm issues.

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