What is arrhythmia?
An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. Risk factors include high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, advanced age and hyperthyroidism. Although more commonly diagnosed in people with heart disease, arrhythmias are sometimes found in people with an otherwise normal heart.
An arrhythmia may feel like a fluttering in the chest or a brief pause. Symptoms may include light-headedness, fainting, chest pain and shortness of breath, but some arrhythmias may go unnoticed and undiagnosed because they cause no symptoms. Arrhythmia can cause serious complications including stroke and congestive heart failure.
Electrophysiology (EP) is the branch of cardiology that diagnoses and treats electrical patterns in the heart. During an EP study, doctors insert long, flexible wires called electrode catheters into veins and guide them into the heart. These electrodes allow doctors to perform cardiac mapping and pinpoint the cause of an irregular heart rhythm.
Although medicines to treat rapid and irregular heartbeats work well for many people, sometimes doctors recommend ablation, a procedure that destroys abnormal heart tissue without damaging the rest of the heart. An EP study and ablation are very similar procedures and are often done during the same appointment, one after the other. There are several types of ablation, including:
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Transcatheter ablation
- Catheter ablation
Union Hospital’s EP Lab utilizes state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and treat arrhythmias. EP studies and ablation procedures are usually painless. They are performed in the EP Lab and take 2-4 hours to complete.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans with arrhythmia, it’s good to know that Union Hospital’s EP Lab are close by and ready to help.
Union Heart & Vascular Center
106 Bow Street
Elkton, MD 21921