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:
Cardiac Arrest Prevention
Understanding Cardiac Arrest
Cardiac arrest is when the heart abruptly stops beating, resulting in loss of breathing and consciousness. The sudden loss of the heart's functioning stops blood flow to your body. Cardiac arrest is an emergency, making quick medical action crucial to survival.
Though cardiac arrest can occur unexpectedly in anyone, it is often linked to underlying heart disease. Three of the most common heart conditions that can lead to cardiac arrest are coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, and cardiomyopathy. Cardiac arrest is often sudden, with no symptoms that come prior as a warning.
If someone experiences cardiac arrest, time is of the essence. Brain damage or death will occur without immediate medical intervention. Performing CPR or chest compressions until medical help arrives can go a long way in improving someone’s odds of survival.
Preventing Cardiac Arrest
Heart disease prevention can play a key role in contributing to a long, healthy life. Part of being proactive about your health is understanding the factors that elevate your risk of developing a heart condition.
Cardiac arrest often occurs as a result of heart disease. As such, being aware of your risk for heart disease can help you understand what steps you can take to prevent cardiac arrest. The top two risk factors for cardiac arrest are a previous heart attack and coronary artery disease. Lifestyle and hereditary factors also contribute to the development of heart disease.
Being an older male puts you at higher risk. In men ages 45 to 54 years old, heart disease is the number one cause of death. Fortunately, you can take measures to prevent cardiac arrest. Making healthy lifestyle choices is your first line of defense.
Testing for certain heart conditions can help us understand your risk for cardiac arrest. We'll begin with a physical exam and blood test. The results of your blood test can alert us to potential factors that could lead to heart disease, such as high cholesterol.
Since cardiac arrest often occurs as a result of arrhythmia, it is helpful to perform diagnostic testing for heart conditions that can lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Finding a cardiac electrophysiologist will be important to ensure you get proper care. We offer a variety of procedures that can identify heart disease.
If you have survived a cardiac arrest or are at risk for cardiac arrest, the goal will be to ensure the proper functioning of your heart's electrical signals. Treatment can involve a range of options, such as medication, ICDs, coronary angioplasty, coronary bypass surgery, and cardiac catheter ablation.
Am I a Candidate?
You may be a candidate for treatment if you have suffered a previous cardiac arrest, have a diagnosed arrhythmia, or if you are at risk of developing heart disease or arrhythmias.
We consider you at risk if you have certain heart conditions, including:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disease
- Congenital heart disease
More on Preventing Cardiac Arrest
What Are the Most Common Heart Conditions That Can Lead to Cardiac Arrest?
- Coronary artery disease: 80% of cardiac arrest incidents occur in people who have coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, arteries become clogged and blood flow to the heart is reduced. Severe cases can cause abnormalities in your heart's rhythm, leading to cardiac arrest.
- Arrhythmia: Sudden cardiac arrest is often the result of issues with the heart's electrical system. Erratic electrical signals can cause arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats. Ventricular fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia and the most common cause of cardiac arrest.
- Cardiomyopathy: Also known as an enlarged heart, cardiomyopathy is when your heart's muscular walls enlarge or thicken, which can lead to arrhythmia.
Symptoms of Cardiac Arrest
- Chest pain
- Racing heartbeat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
Lifestyle and Hereditary Factors That Can Contribute to Cardiac Arrest
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Family history of cardiac arrest or heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
How Can I Live a Healthier Lifestyle to Prevent Cardiac Arrest?
- Eating a heart-healthy diet (whole grains, fruits/vegetables)
- Getting regular exercise
- Reducing stress
- Avoiding tobacco
- Losing weight, if needed
- Getting regular medical checkups
Recommended Procedures That Can Identify Heart Disease
An electrocardiogram (EKG) is one of the simplest tests to measure the electrical activity of the heart. Through electrodes placed on the chest, a cardiac electrophysiologist records your heart's electrical signals to see if there is abnormal functioning.
Cardiac Imaging Tests
Imaging tests use ultrasound, MRI, or X-ray machines to take pictures of the heart. Seeing your heart at work can offer more insight into how well it's functioning and if the disease is present. We use several different types of cardiac imaging, including:
- CT scan of the coronary arteries
- Nuclear cardiac stress test
- Coronary calcium scoring
More on Long-Term Treatments for Cardiac Arrest
Prescription medication can help control an arrhythmia. There are several types we can try to find the right one for you. Beta blockers help lower your blood pressure by blocking the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline) so that blood flow is less forceful and your heart beats slower.
Though beta blockers are the most common approach for reducing risk of cardiac arrest, we may also try drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and calcium channel blockers.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a battery-powered unit placed under your skin that records your heart rate. When it detects abnormal heart rhythms, it sends an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat. ICD devices have been shown to be extremely effective in preventing sudden cardiac arrest, both in patients who have known ventricular arrhythmias and those who are at high-risk for them.
A coronary angioplasty uses a balloon catheter to open up clogged arteries in the heart. The balloon helps widen the blood vessels so that good blood flow can be restored. Angioplasty is often combined with the placement of a wire-mesh, medication-releasing stent to prevent the artery from narrowing again.
Coronary bypass surgery
Coronary bypass surgery uses a blood vessel from another part of the body to create a new path and restore blood flow to your heart. Usually reserved for those with several severely blocked arteries, the procedure can reduce incidents of racing heartbeats.
Cardiac catheter ablation
Catheter ablation uses a small catheter to deliver radiofrequency energy to abnormal tissue. The resultant scars on the tissue prevent erratic electrical signals from passing through your heart.
Other Risk Factors for Cardiac Arrest
- Unhealthy diet
- Being male
- Older age — over 45 for men, and over 55 for women
- History of heart disease or a heart attack
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Substance abuse
- Low potassium or magnesium