Electrophysiology lab

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A better way to treat a-fib — and it’s in East Texas only at ETMC

If the symptoms of atrial fibrillation (a-fib) are keeping you or someone you love from living life to the fullest, the ETMC Cardiovascular Institute can help. Using an advanced ablation device called a cryoballoon, Raul Torres-Heisecke, MD, fellowship-trained electrophysiologist and cardiologist, is able to better manage the symptoms of a-fib.

Bringing the first cryoballoon to East Texas required, in his words, “a significant commitment” of resources on the part of ETMC. But the benefit to East Texans with a-fib is just as significant. “Last week, a lady who was crippled with atrial fibrillation came to my office and she was crying. She gave me a hug and she said, ‘Thank you for becoming a doctor, because you gave me back my life.’”

This is advanced heart care that changes lives — and it’s the heart of ETMC’s commitment to you.

What is electrophysiology?

Electrophysiology (EP) relates to the diagnosis and treatment of the heart’s electrical system, which controls the heart rhythm. If you have a heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia), your heart may beat too fast, too slowly or erratically. This causes a dangerous disruption of blood flow and can result in stroke, organ damage or organ failure.

Symptoms of arrhythmia

It is important to note that not all arrhythmias are accompanied by symptoms. However, some noticeable signs of arrhythmia are

  • fluttering in the chest
  • racing heartbeat
  • slow heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • on-going fatigue and tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting

Diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmia at the ETMC EP lab

Under the direction of fellowship-trained electrophysiologists and cardiologists, the EP lab at ETMC is equipped to care for all types of problems affecting the heart’s electrical system.

In addition to a physical exam and patient history, EP specialists may perform a variety of studies to diagnose heart rhythm problems. Most are simple and noninvasive, such as blood tests, EKGs, stress tests and tilt table tests that check for the source of lightheadedness and fainting. Others such as EP study and coronary angiography may involve catheterization lab procedures for a more in-depth check of the heart’s electrical signals.

Treatment options may include ablation or cyroballoon procedures to stop arrhythmias and a-fib, implantation of pacemakers to regulate heart rhythm or use of implantable cardiac defibrillators to control life-threatening heart arrhythmias.

Types of arrhythmias include

  • Atrial fibrillation (a-fib): Irregular contraction of the upper heart chambers
  • Atrial flutter: Consistently rapid contraction of the upper heart chambers
  • Bradycardia: Slow heartbeat
  • Conduction disorders: Abnormal heartbeat
  • Premature contraction: Early heartbeat
  • Tachycardia: Rapid heartbeat
  • Ventricular fibrillation (v-fib): Irregular contraction of the lower heart chambers

If you or someone you love is experiencing a fluttering sensation in the chest or lack of energy that decreases quality of life, please call 903-595-5514 for an appointment.