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Comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders

Watch to learn about the Heart Rhythm Center.

Electrophysiology

The Rush-Copley Heart Rhythm Center provides excellence in the evaluation and treatment of patients with many different kinds of arrhythmias. We have an ongoing commitment to provide you with technologically advanced and personalized care.

The integrated team of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals provides a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders and we strive to make your experience with us as comfortable as possible.

Our team will provide you with vital information that will help you to understand your arrhythmia, tests you may have, and your treatment. They provide instructions prior to hospital discharge and see you again after ablation or device implantation, if you have one of those treatments.

What is Electrophysiology?

Your heart is a complex organ that is regulated by slight electrical impulses generated by the body. An abnormal heart rhythm is a change in the speed or the regular pattern of how your heart beats.

Cardiac electrophysiology deals with the electrical system of the heart and abnormal heart rhythms.  If your heart beats irregularly, too rapidly, or even too slowly, it can cause significant problems.

Electrophysiology Studies

An electrophysiology (EP) study is an invasive diagnostic test to evaluate the electrical system of the heart. A thin, flexible catheter tube with an electrode on the end is threaded through an vein into the heart, where it both records electrical activity and emits electrical impulses to test the heart’s response. The EP study is usually an outpatient procedure and can last anywhere from one to three hours and will help to determine the location of the heart's abnormal electrical activity. The location and type of rhythm problem help confirm the appropriate treatment option(s).

Common Symptoms

Arrhythmias appear as a change in the speed or pattern of your heartbeat and can cause:

  • Palpitations (fluttering, skipping or pounding in the chest)
  • Chest pressure or pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting spells
  • Fatigue

Many arrhythmias are common and may not require any specific treatment, but certain abnormal heart rhythms, left untreated, can cause death.

Even though symptoms may not be readily apparent, it is very important to identify the nature and the cause of any abnormal heart rhythms. If you’ve been diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia, your doctor has probably referred you for an electrophysiology study or procedure as a treatment or therapy for your heart rhythm disorder.

Procedures and Devices

Electrophysiology offers many effective treatments and therapies for heart arrhythmias.

Pacemaker Implantation and Monitoring
A pacemaker is a small, battery-powered electronic device that is implanted in the patient’s chest to keep the heart beating at the proper rate. Pacemakers are used when a defect, blockage, or age-induced slowing of electrical impulses causes the heart to heat too slowly or to fail to speed up during activity. This deprives the body of the blood flow it needs. Recently, special pacemakers have been developed that improve heart function in patients with congestive heart failure. Patients with pacemakers must be monitored several times a year using a computerized programmer device that can communicate with the pacemaker and adjust its settings as necessary.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
An ICD is a device, similar to a pacemaker, which is implanted in the chest to monitor and treat episodes of abnormally fast heartbeats (tachycardia) or chaotic, quivering heartbeats (fibrillation). The ICD is programmed to detect the abnormal heartbeats and deliver electrical impulses or a shock to terminate the dangerous rhythm. Like those with pacemakers, patients with ICDs, must be monitored several times a year with a programmer.

Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation
This breakthrough, non-surgical procedure is similar to the electrophysiology study, except that it identifies and then destroys the malfunctioning electrical pathway in the heart.

An electrophysiologist inserts a special wire (catheter) through a blood vessel in your groin. This is then directed into the ehart and focused on the cells that cause irregular heart rhythm. Heat energy is then sent through the wire to destroy (ablate) the problem cells without harming the rest of the heart. RF ablation has a 98% success rate for many supra-ventricular arrythmias. This procedure is relatively low risk and can replace surgery in most instances. IV sedation is used during the procedure not general anesthesia. The patient is comfortable and sleepy. Most of the time patients are able to go home the same day, but occasionally some patients may have to stay overnight. Your stay will be in a private room where your family can remain during your recovery.

Follow-up Programs and Support Services

For patients with a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), our follow-up programs help assure each patient’s device is doing its job properly. Quick visits allow for staff to check the status of each device and to answer any questions.

Living with an arrhythmia may mean you have to make some changes in your lifestyle. To smooth your adjustment to life with an arrhythmia, the Heart Rhythm Center holds periodic support meetings at our offices for patients and their families. These gatherings feature educational presentations and also provide an opportunity to share experiences with other people who have arrhythmias. The meetings are coordinated and led by our physicians, nurses, and support personnel.

Assessing New Treatments Through Clinical Trials

As part of our commitment to advancing the care of patients with arrhythmias, the Heart Rhythm Center works closely with Fox Valley Clinical Research Center to participate in many clinical trials to assess new treatments that possess the potential to improve each patient’s outcome. For more information or to see if you or your patient is eligible for one of these trials, please contact the Heart Rhythm Center.