Houston is home to some of the top cardiac electrophysiology programs and specialists in the country. Cardiac electrophysiologists are heart specialists who diagnose and treat irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. They work to ensure the heart maintains a regular rhythm and provide care when dangerous arrhythmias occur.
Arrhythmias can develop for many reasons including genetics, heart defects, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and valve problems. Symptoms include palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fainting. Certain arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation increase the risk of stroke. Others can lead to sudden cardiac arrest if not properly treated.
Electrophysiologists use devices to record the heart’s electrical signals during beats and monitor for anomalies. Common diagnostic tests include electrocardiograms (ECG), Holter monitors, event monitors, stress tests, and electrophysiology studies. These help identify the type of arrhythmia and best course of treatment.
Many arrhythmias are treatable with medication, medical devices like pacemakers, or procedures like catheter ablation. In catheter ablation, the electrophysiologist threads a catheter through the veins to the affected area of the heart. Energy delivered through the catheter destroys the tissues causing the abnormal rhythm. Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive option that can provide long-term relief for many patients.