The heart is an amazing muscle. It pumps approximately 2,000 gallons of blood throughout the body and beats about 100,000 times each day. The heart is located in the center of the chest but, because the bottom of the heart tips to the left, more of the heartbeat is felt on the left.
“Normally, electricity flows through the heart and produces the familiar thump-bump pattern that can be heard through a stethoscope,” said Dr. Antonella Quattromani, electrocardiolgy specialist at Des Peres Hospital. “But, if an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, is detected, an electrophysiology study may be recommended to determine the cause of the abnormal rhythm.”
“Symptoms of abnormal heart rhythms include fainting or seizure during exercise, excitement or startle and consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise. A family history of unexpected, unexplained sudden death under age 40 is also a risk factor,” Quattromani said.
Electrophysiology tests are commonly performed to identify the area in the heart that is causing an arrhythmia and to develop the best course of treatment. Information generated during the test also may be used to predict a future cardiac event, evaluate the effectiveness of certain medications to control the irregular heartbeat, or decide if an implantable defibrillator, pacemaker or catheter ablation procedure is necessary.
Abnormal results from an electrophysiology test can identify numerous conditions, such as atrial fibrillation (abnormal electrical discharges in the heart that cause an irregular heartbeat), ventricular tachycardia (rapid heartbeats that start in the ventricles), or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (a condition in which there is an extra electrical pathway in the heart). For more information about different types of arrhythmias, visit despereshospital.com/heartrhythm. For a free referral to a cardiologist, calll 1-888-457-5203.