Cardiac electrophysiology is the study of the heart’s electrical system. This system directs how fast or slow your heart beats and determines how it beats. When the heart’s electrical system experiences a problem, it can result in an abnormal heart rhythm – called arrhythmia.

There are many types of arrhythmias; they are identified according to where they occur in the heart (atria or ventricles) and by what happens to the heart’s rhythm when they occur. Arrhythmias arising in the atria are described as atrial or supraventricular (above the ventricles). Arrhythmias originating in the ventricles are generally the most serious type of abnormal heart rhythm.

Individuals experience the symptoms of arrhythmia differently. Some who have this condition may not feel any symptoms and their arrhythmia will go unnoticed until a physician detects it during a routine exam. Others may experience only minor symptoms, while some are sensitive to the slightest sensation.

Symptoms commonly reported include:

  • Palpitations (rapid or irregular heart beat)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Chest Pain

In some cases, medication can help control arrhythmias. Other treatments may include:

  • Cardioversion - A cardiologist or surgeon uses electrical paddles to shock the heart back into the normal rhythm.
  • Ablation - In this procedure, which is used for treating a fast heart rate, the heart cells responsible for the electrical pathway in the heart are selectively destroyed (ablated), correcting the heart rhythm problem. This is performed in the cardiac cath lab, where a cardiologist uses a special catheter with an electrode and radiofrequency energy to destroy the cells causing the arrhythmia.
  • Pacemakers and ICDs - Pacemakers send electrical impulses to the heart to help it pump properly. Implanted Cardiac Devices (ICDs) monitor your heart and deliver a shock to the heart in the event of an unsafe heart rhythm or arrhythmia. The ICD can make the heart start beating normally again.
  • S-ICD® - INTEGRIS Heart Hospital at Baptist Medical Center is the first hospital in Oklahoma City to offer the Boston Scientific S-ICD® System, the world's first and only commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Learn More.

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