Electrophysiology is the branch of cardiology that diagnoses and treats heart arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, caused by problems with the heart's electrical system. Arrhythmias can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and even put you at risk for developing more serious heart disease. At Cardiovascular Medicine, we are proud to have cardiac electrophysiologists who are specially trained and board certified in electrophysiology.
When to See a Cardiovascular Specialist
Heart arrhythmias can indicate or even result in more serious disease, so it’s important to visit a cardiac electrophysiologist if you have symptoms or risk factors. We provide a full spectrum of electrophysiology care, from diagnosis to treatment and management of your condition. We can help with:
Understanding the cause of your arrhythmia is critical in deciding on the appropriate treatment. We offer many diagnostic tests that help us understand your heart’s functioning, including imaging so we can assess blood flow and monitoring so we can detect rhythm abnormalities. Our diagnostic testing options include:
Our mission is to provide personalized care to all patients. We create customized treatment plans based on your testing results, personal history, preferences, and more. With Cardiovascular Medicine, you can rest assured that you are getting the most advanced cardiovascular care in the Quad Cities area. Your options for treatment may include:
Advanced Ablation Therapies
What is Ablation Therapy?
Cardiac ablation is a procedure that uses energy to eliminate, or ablate, abnormal heart tissue. It is often used to treat arrhythmias, which are abnormal heart rhythms. The most common type of irregular heartbeat is called atrial fibrillation (AFib), which occurs when the upper and lower chambers of the heart aren’t coordinated.
Electrical signals travel through the heart to control your heart’s rhythm. When these signals are abnormal, they can cause irregular heartbeats. When your heartbeat is irregular, it means blood isn’t flowing as well as it should, elevating the risk of clots forming inside of your heart. When blood clots travel to your brain, they can cause a stroke.Electrophysiology is the cardiology specialty that diagnoses and treats heart arrhythmias, or problems related to the heart's electrical system. Cardiovascular Medicine, is proud to have several physicians trained and board certified in cardiac electrophysiology. Cardiac electrophysiologists require special training and experience in addition to their primary cardiology training.
What to Expect
If advanced ablation therapy is recommended for treatment, we will perform a thorough evaluation of your heart to determine the best cardiac ablation therapy for your condition.
Before your test, there are a few things you should do to prepare. We may ask you to stop taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin. Your doctor will advise you on whether or not you should take other medications. Don't eat or drink for several hours before the test.
Our cardiologists perform cardiac ablation in the hospital. It generally takes about six to eight hours to complete. You may feel a bit of discomfort, depending on your level of sedation. After the procedure, you'll remain in the hospital for a few hours, or you may need to stay overnight until you're ready to go home.
Risks & Side Effects
Some people experience mild pain or discomfort both during and after the procedure, and should dissipate within a week.
There are potential risks with cardiac ablation. We will speak to you about your individual benefits and risks.
Am I a Candidate?
Catheter ablation is for people with arrhythmia, such as AFib. We generally only recommend it to those who have been unsuccessful in controlling their arrhythmia with medication.
Understanding your risk factors for arrhythmia can help you know when to be concerned about symptoms. Sometimes, there are no symptoms with arrhythmia, but they can include palpitations, shortness or breath, and fatigue.
More on Advanced Ablation Therapies
Ways to Perform Cardiac Ablation
- Catheter ablation uses a small catheter to deliver energy to abnormal tissue. This creates scars on the tissue that prevent erratic electrical signals — the source of the abnormal rhythm — from passing through your heart.
- Hybrid ablation combines catheterization with minimally-invasive surgery. It is ideal for treating persistent AFib.
- Surgical ablation is the most invasive type of cardiac ablation and is usually only done with another open-heart surgery.
What Happens During an Advanced Ablation Test?
- We will administer an IV with sedation to help you relax. The level of sedation will depend on the type of arrhythmia.
- We will thread a catheter through a blood vessel (usually the groin) to your heart. Several catheters may be used.
- We may use contrast dye to see your blood vessels more clearly with X-ray.
- Next, we perform an electrophysiology study. We send electrical signals to the heart via sensors on the tip of the catheter. This allows us to see the area in which to target the ablation.
- Using heat or cold as the energy source, we create small scars that will allow your heart to make new pathways for electrical signals.
What Are the Potential Risks With Cardiac Ablation?
- Bleeding or infection at the catheter insertion site
- Blood vessel damage
- Heart valve damage
- Blood clots
- New or worsening arrhythmia
- A permanent pacemaker
- Stroke or heart attack
- Pulmonary vein stenosis (narrowing of the veins)
Risks Factors for Arrhythmia
- Being over age 60
- High blood pressure
- Underlying heart disease
- Heart valve disease
- Coronary artery disease
- Congenital heart disorders
- Unhealthy eating or drinking habits