The heart is a beautifully designed pump that relies on its own electrical system to beat and circulate blood throughout the body. Sometimes there is a problem with the heart’s electrical system – or electrophysiology – resulting in a heart rhythm disorder whereby the heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly, which can lead to a number of complications, including stroke and even sudden death.
The electrophysiologists at the Heart & Vascular Institute of Texas are physicians who have specialized training in diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders and irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). They use a number of advanced technologies and techniques for diagnosis and management.
Heart Rhythm Management
- Evaluation and treatment of atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia and other arrhythmias
- Evaluation and treatment of syncope
- Management of antiarrhythmic medications
- Electrophysiology studies
- Holter monitors, event monitors, and implantable loop recorders
- Implantation and management of pacemakers
- Implantation and management of implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)
- Cardiac re-syncronization therapy and biventricular devices
- Intracardiac echocardiograms
Radiofrequency ablation is where one or more flexible, thin tubes (catheters) are guided via x-ray through the blood vessels to abnormal heart muscle tissue. Once there, a burst of radiofrequency energy destroys very small areas of the tissue, which give rise to abnormal electrical signals causing rhythm disturbances.
Holter and Event Monitoring
The 24-hour Holter monitor is an electrocardiographic recording device that utilizes electrodes, which the patient wears for a 24-hour period, including during sleep and exercise. The Holter monitor captures the patient’s entire heart rhythm over a 24-hour period so that it can be analyzed.
An event monitor is a similar wearable device that the patient takes home for a period of time. Except rather than continuously recording, the patient manually starts on stops the recoding when he or she suddenly begins to experience symptoms of palpitations or heart racing. The recording of the cardiac event can be transmitted remotely for analysis.
Pacemakers are miniature devices that can be implanted underneath the skin to monitor and provide control of a patient’s the heart rhythm. Pacemakers are particularly helpful in patients who suffer from heart rhythms which are abnormally slow. Typically, the pacemaker is placed under the skin of the front wall of the heart below the collarbone. Monitoring of the pacemaker is usually done remotely at home with periodic visits to the cardiologist’s office.
Implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are 99 percent effective in stopping life-threatening arrhythmias and are the most successful therapy to treat ventricular fibrillation, a major cause of sudden cardiac death. An ICD is implanted under the skin near the heart and constantly monitors a patient’s heart rhythm. If it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm, it delivers energy to the heart muscle causing it to beat in a normal rhythm.