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Electrical signals in your heart make the heart muscle contracts, which then pumps blood to your all parts of your body. If the electrical signals are not working well, this can create serious problems. Symptoms can include palpitations (a fluttering or thumping in your chest), dizziness, weakness or passing out.

Who we are.

Along with our physicians, the electrophysiology team includes arrhythmia nurse specialists, radiology technicians and other support staff, all dedicated to explaining everything that happens throughout the course of your stay. You expect answers, guidance and care, and we are prepared to help every step of the way, from diagnosis and treatment.

Electrophysiology (EP) procedures

We at Metrowest Medical Center are rather fortunate to offer EP procedures commonly only offered in large academic medical centers. We have invested in training for our staff and equipment that allows our physician experts get to the “heart” of your problem and treat it safely, quickly and effectively.Our EP care services include:

Reasons for procedure.

An electrophysiology study is performed to:

  • Find the cause of abnormally slow heart rhythms
  • Find the source of abnormally fast heart rhythms
  • Provoke and diagnose frequent heart arrhythmias
  • Reveal suspected arrhythmias
  • Evaluate a person’s risk for sudden death
  • Assess symptoms of unknown cause, including fatigue and fainting
  • Assess your response to anti-arrhythmic therapy, like a pacemaker, cardioverter defibrillator or need for cryoablation

Possible complications.

If you are planning to have an electrophysiology study, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blot clot formation
  • Injuries to blood vessels or the heart
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Heart attack
  • Each person’s risk level is unique, and may relate to the specific arrhythmia suspected and any underlying medical conditions.

What to Expect.

You will be asked to lie down on an examination table. Electrodes will be placed on your chest to help to monitor your heart rhythm. An area on your thigh, neck, or just below your collarbone will be cleaned. A thin electrical wire will be inserted into a blood vessel in that area.

The electrode will be passed through the blood vessel and into your heart. Your doctor will be able to see the progress of the catheter with the help of X-rays on a screen. The tip of the electrode can send electrical signals to your heart that will make the heart beat at different speeds. Your heart rhythm will be recorded to look for abnormalities.

The test may take 2-4 hours or more to complete.

Will It Hurt?

You may feel some mild discomfort with the initial injection. As the doctors induce an arrhythmia, you may feel palpitations, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, or you may even lose consciousness. The medical team can usually control arrhythmias with medication, but may need to administer a shock to stop some rhythms. If they need to do this, you will receive more sedation so that you do not feel pain.

If your doctor does not need to do additional procedures, you should be able to go home after about six hours. However, you may need to remain in the hospital for up to 24 hours if additional procedures are done during the study.

Post-procedure Care at the Care Center.

  • EKG and blood studies may be done.
  • You will likely need to lie still and flat on your back for a period of time. A pressure dressing may be placed over the area where the catheter was inserted to help prevent bleeding. It is important to follow the nurses' directions.
  • You will need to rest in bed until the sedative has worn off. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored. You will also be checked for swelling or infections. If necessary, you may be given pain medicine. After resting for at least 4-6 hours, your doctor will let you know if you can go home that day or if you need to be admitted for more treatment or observation. If you are discharged on the same day as the test, you should have someone drive you home.

The results of the study may be available before you leave the hospital or in the next few days. Your doctor will notify you if you need any treatment.

At Home.

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Do not lift heavy objects or engage in strenuous exercise or sexual activity for at least 24 hours.
  • Change the dressing around the insertion area as instructed.
  • Take medicines as instructed.
  • Ice may help decrease discomfort at the insertion site. You may apply the ice for 15-20 minutes each hour, for the first few days.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the insertion site
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Your leg feels cold, turns white or blue, or becomes numb or tingly
  • Discomfort in the jaw, chest, neck, arms, or upper back
  • Dizziness or weakness

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

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