Know when to see an electrophysiologist
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
When the bio-electrical systems of a heart go haywire, it’s time to seek the expertise of an electrician of sorts, an electrophysiologist.
The heart produces and conducts electrical activity that prompts it to contract. Under certain conditions, the heart’s electrical systems can go haywire, resulting in a fast heartbeat, a slow heartbeat or one that’s out of rhythm. These irregular heart rhythms are called arrhythmias.
Inserting a pacemaker once was the solution to correcting such heart irregularities. That changed with the introduction of electrophysiology. Electrophysiologists offer a range of alternative surgical procedures to help manage arrhythmias.
Irregular heart rhythms are common among people who have diseases or conditions that weaken the heart such as heart failure, narrowed heart valves or heart defects present a birth. Other conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid disorders and sleep apnea can increase a person’s risk for arrhythmias. Some heart rhythm problems can be triggered by tobacco, caffeine, alcohol and physical or emotional stress.
AFib, the most common form of arrhythmia, increases a person’s risk of stroke by five times. Because a person’s blood isn’t pumping the way it should, clots can form. Those clots can break free and travel to the brain, blocking critical blood flow. When the brain doesn’t get blood and the oxygen it carries, brain cells die.
AFib also places a person at significantly higher risk for congestive heart failure. When a person’s heart rate beats faster than normal for an extended time, his or her heart muscle can be damaged, leading to congestive heart failure.
Other heart rhythm disorders carry similar health risks. People with bradycardia (slow heart rate) may experience fatigue, dizziness or frequent fainting spells.
A person’s heart may also have abnormal electrical circuits that fire unpredictably, causing potentially dangerous, life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.
An electrophysiologist can help a patient properly manage the severity of an arrhythmia.
Dr. Vinay Mehta is a board-certified cardiologist with fellowship training in cardiac electrophysiology. He sees patients in Green Bay and Two Rivers. To request an appointment, call 920-288-8300 in Green Bay or 920-793-6550 in Two Rivers or do so online.