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Electrophysiology (EP) Study and Catheter Ablation

epAn EP study is used to diagnose an abnormal heart rhythm problem (most frequently supraventricular tachycardia) and catheter ablation may cure the problem.

The heart's rhythmic contractions depend on the conduction of electrical impulses from the 'natural pacemaker' area to the heart muscle. (These impulses function a bit like a spark plug in a motor). An abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, is a change in either the speed or pattern of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart may beat too slowly (bradycardia), too rapidly (tachycardia), or irregularly. Bradycardia is often treated with a pacemaker.

In an EP study electrical signals are recorded from electrode catheters (specialised wires) inside the heart as well as ECG leads on the skin. Tiny electrical impulses can be delivered through the catheters to pace the heart, and induce (bring on) certain abnormal heart rhythms so that they can be observed under controlled conditions.

During catheter ablation, doctors position an ablating electrode catheter in the heart, close to the abnormal electrical pathway that is causing the arrhythmia, and then pass radio-frequency energy through the catheter tip. The energy heats the tip of the catheter and destroys the small area of the heart tissue containing the abnormal pathway. The 'burn' heals with a small scar and the abnormal electrical pathway is no longer capable of producing arrhythmias.

Medications are frequently used to treat rapid heart rhythms, but they may be ineffective or cause side effects, or need to be continued indefinitely. Catheter ablation can be a valuable alternative to long term medication. When successful, the problem should be cured, and catheter ablation is already regarded as first line therapy for many heart rhythm disturbances. The role for an EP/Ablation procedure in your case can be discussed with your cardiologist, and if necessary you can be referred to a cardiac electrophysiologist (heart rhythm specialist) to discuss this  further.

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Address: 98 Mountain Rd, Epsom, Auckland.
Phone: 09 630 1961
Facsimile: 09 630 1962
Email: admin@mercyangiography.co.nz
Website: Mercy Angiography

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