Electrophysiology (Heart Rhythm Care)
At the forefront of detecting and treating complex cardiac arrhythmias
We help get your heart beating normally again.
Since the Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory at Lourdes Medical Center first opened its doors, it has grown into one of the busiest and most experienced laboratories in the region. We offer the full complement of cardiac rhythm management with diagnostic and therapeutic interventions utilizing the most advanced equipment and techniques. With emphasis on early detection, our team diagnoses and treats severe arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), with the goal of relieving symptoms and preventing the common causes of sudden cardiac death.
Our comprehensive care includes the use of drug therapies, leading-edge devices and sophisticated catheter interventions. In patients with palpitations (fast or abnormal heart beats), electrophysiologic studies performed with minimally invasive techniques can reveal abnormal electrical circuits within the heart that cause the arrhythmia. For patients with arrhythmias, catheter ablation (selective destruction of abnormal pathways) can be performed within the heart to provide curative therapy. Patients who are at risk for arrhythmias, such as those with advanced heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD), may benefit from implantation of small electronic devices (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), biventricular devices) into the body to improve the function of their heart and/or protect from sudden events in cardiac rhythm.
The arrhythmia specialists at Lourdes are also actively participating in research projects. These studies evaluate new technologies in the care of patients with complex arrhythmias and heart failure conditions. Lourdes Cardiology is committed to providing the latest breakthrough technology for our patients, including the leadless pacemaker (Micra™), subcutaneous ICD and Watchman™ left atrial appendage closure implant for stroke prevention.
Services provided by Lourdes Cardiology include:
Diagnostic cardiac electrophysiology studies
Electrophysiology studies (EPS) are tests that help doctors evaluate the rhythm of the heart and understand the nature of abnormal heart rhythms. When your heart doesn’t beat normally, doctors can use EPS to find out why. During an EPS, about three to five electrically sensitive catheters are placed inside the heart to record electrical activity. This allows doctors to determine where an arrhythmia is coming from, how well certain medicines work to treat your arrhythmia and if a pacemaker or ICD is needed.
Insertable Loop Recorder (ILR) Implantation
An implantable loop recorder (ILR), also known as an insertable cardiac monitor, is a small device about the size of a USB memory stick that is implanted just under the skin of your chest for cardiac monitoring. The ILR tracks the electrical activity of the heart, continuously storing information in its memory. Your physician can then download and review the recorded events and EKG during an office visit.
When the heart’s natural rhythm is compromised, an implanted pacemaker can instead retrigger regular heart contractions to achieve a normal rate and rhythm. This is typically indicated for a patient with a slow heart rate.
Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (Biventricular Pacing)
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) involves the implantation of a pacemaker and three leads (wires) to monitor a patient’s heart rate to detect heart rate irregularities and correct them with tiny pulses of electricity. Patients with heart failure who have developed arrhythmia are often candidates for CRT.
Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD) Implantation
For those at high risk of cardiac arrest due to ventricular arrhythmia (problems with the cadence of contraction of the ventricles of the heart), a defibrillator may be inserted to shock the heart back into normal rhythm when necessary.
Micra™ Leadless Pacemaker Transcatheter Pacing System
The Micra™ transcatheter pacing system (TPS) is the world’s smallest pacemaker. Through a minimally invasive procedure, it is inserted directly into the right ventricle and does not require the use of leads. For patients with bradycardia (abnormally slow heartbeat), this leading-edge implant offers an estimated 12-year battery life and fewer major complications than traditional pacemakers.
Pacemaker and ICD Lead Removal (Extraction)
When a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator is implanted into a patient, wire leads are attached to the patient’s heart. When needed, these leads deliver an electric shock directly to the heart. While the average life span of the pacemaker itself is approximately 10 years, the leads are generally permanently placed. However, occasionally the leads may need to be removed (extracted) due to infection, dislocation, damage or scar tissue around the tips of the leads.
Electrical cardioversion is a procedure in which an electric current is used to reset your heart's rhythm back to normal sinus rhythm. The low-voltage electric current enters the body through patches applied to the chest wall. The procedure is most commonly used in patients with arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
In this innovative procedure, the electrophysiology team uses catheter systems that have sophisticated guidance and electrical mapping technology to find and destroy (ablate) the abnormal tissue causing the rhythm problem. Cardiac ablation is used to treat multiple arrhythmia conditions, such as supraventricular tachycardias, ventricular tachycardias and atrial fibrillation.
Hybrid Ablation for Long-standing Persistent and Refractory Atrial Fibrillation
This relatively new treatment for atrial fibrillation combines two established procedures – catheter and surgical ablation. For patients with difficult-to-manage atrial fibrillation or other conditions, such an enlarged heart, it can offer the possibility of higher success rates and better long-term results versus surgical or catheter ablation alone.
Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion
The left atrial appendage is a normal pouch-like outcropping of the heart’s left atrium. In patients with abnormal heart rhythms, blood can pool, sit and coagulate in this structure, and then escape as dangerous clots. Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) is an implant-based alternative to blood thinners to reduce the risk of left atrial appendage blood clots from entering the bloodstream and causing a stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. The Watchman™ implant is inserted via a catheter, similar to a stent procedure and is left permanently fixed in the heart. It's screen-like structure prevents clots from leaving the appendage.
Tilt Table Testing
Tilt table tests are used to determine why people feel faint or lightheaded, or even completely pass out. The tests can be used to see if fainting is due to abnormal control of heart rate or blood pressure. A very slow heart rate (bradycardia) can also cause fainting. During the test, patients lie for about 15 minutes on a special table that then promptly elevates the head and torso about the rest of body simulating a change in position from lying down to standing up. During this transition, the team monitors blood pressure and heart rate to see if these vital signs respond properly to this change in body posture.
Some cardiac arrhythmias may require surgical intervention. See Cardiac Surgery.