If a doctor hears an abnormal heartbeat, he or she many refer you to a specialist in electrophysiology, sometimes called EP. Cardiac electrophysiologists are doctors with advanced subspecialty training in diagnosing and treating problems with the heart’s electrical system and rhythm. Key tests they perform include:
Echocardiogram. A device called a transducer is placed on the chest. The transducer then creates moving pictures of the heart by bouncing sound waves off the heart and listening for the echo.
Holter monitors. These devices that record the heart’s electrical activity are usually worn at home for 24 to 48 hours to record a continuous electrocardiogram (ECG). In addition to wearing the device, the patient keeps a log of any symptoms he or she experiences that the doctor compares with the recording from the monitor.
Event recorder. Like a Holter monitor, this pager-sized device is worn continuously, but it is activated either on an intermittent schedule or by the person wearing it when he or she feel the heart begin to beat too fast or chaotically. Patients with pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators may also use event monitors to check in with their doctor regularly and send data from the recorder to the doctor with a phone or internet connection.
Electrophysiology study (EPS). This test is performed in our cardiac electrophysiology clinic to predict if an individual is at high risk of a sudden heart attack. Small catheters are passed into the heart to record its electrical signals. Local anesthetics are used to numb areas in the groin or near the neck where a pin-hole incision is made to insert the catheter.
They may also use advanced diagnostic imaging tests, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your heart, to plan your treatment.