AMERICAN HEART MONTH: Why you would need an electrophysiology study

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:55 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Electrophysiology focuses on the rhythms and electrical activity of the heart. Certain health issues may call for an electrophysiology (EP) study. This may be the result if you have an irregular heart rhythm or you are at risk for sudden cardiac death.

“It’s a very simple study,” Polly Cason with Augusta Health explained. “The patient has some sedation so they are comfortable through the procedure and it is very low risk.”

Cason is a nurse practitioner in the electrophysiology department at Augusta Health.

An electrophysiology study is done by a special catheter that is inserted into various locations on the body to map out the electrical systems of the heart to try and detect abnormalities in the heart’s rhythm.

Experts say if you have certain heart conditions EP study can help doctors better understand the next steps in treatment.

“Sometimes we do an EP study for someone who has passed out and there is a strong suspicion for an abnormal or dangerous rhythm out of the bottom of the heart and if we are able to stir that rhythm in the E.P. study sometimes we put in a defibrillator because of that so we are able to detect dangerous rhythms out of the bottom of the heart as well,” Cason explained.

Depending on the issue, there are a number of treatment options that an EP study can lead to.

“Like atrial fibrillation or a flutter those rhythms respond well to an ablation procedure,” Cason added.

Polly says EP studies are mainly used in people who have a-fib but there could be other reasons

“If you are having any symptoms palpitations irregular heartbeats, or shortness of breath that seems out of the ordinary activity intolerance, we highly recommend going to your family practitioner and following up if they have any concerns that are related to a heart rhythm. They send us the referral and we would be happy to evaluate further and make sure you are safe.”

For more information on heart health services at Augusta Health, click here.