An electrophysiology study, or EP study, is a test to see if you have an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and how to fix it. The heartbeat may be too fast or too slow and may be regular or irregular. A heartbeat that is too fast is called tachycardia, and a heartbeat that is too slow is called bradycardia. Although many arrhythmias are not life threatening, some can cause cardiac arrest.

If a test suggests you need treatment, your doctor may advise you to get one of these procedures.

Implantable Loop Recorder

A physician may implant a small monitor called a loop recorder under your skin to get detailed data on your heartbeat over a period of time. Your device may record symptoms automatically, or you may need to manually start recording when you feel an irregular rhythm.

Tilt Table Test

If you sometimes faint or feel lightheaded, a tilt table test can show whether your symptoms result from an abnormal heart rate. You’ll lie on a table with painless electrodes attached to your skin to track your heartbeat and a cuff on your arm to measure blood pressure. A technician then tilts the table to see if your blood pressure or heart rate change.

Electrophysiology Study (EPS)

During an electrophysiology study, a doctor threads a catheter—a thin, flexible tube—and tiny electrodes through blood vessels and up to the heart to test its electrical signals. Your heart’s responses reveal what’s causing the unusual rhythm.

Electrophysiology Treatments & Services

If a test suggests you need treatment, your doctor may advise you to get one of these procedures.

Radiofrequency Ablation

For radiofrequency ablation, a doctor threads a thin, flexible tube with an electrode at the end through your blood vessels and up to your heart. The electrode transmits energy to eliminate a tiny area of damaged tissue that causes arrhythmia.

Electrical Cardioversion

A physician may use two paddles to deliver a brief electric shock to your heart to reset your heart rhythm. You’ll receive medication to relax you and prevent pain before the procedure.

Cardioverter Defibrillator or Pacemaker Implantation

Your doctor may implant a cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker under your skin to steady your heartbeat. This technology stays in place long-term to keep your heart from beating too slowly and prevent cardiac arrest—a condition in which your heart stops.

In some cases, a doctor may eventually need to remove and replace the leads, or wires, that connect your ICD or pacemaker to your heart because of infection, scar tissue or damage to the leads. The minimally invasive procedure requires only a tiny incision.

Hybrid Catheter & Surgical Ablation (HyCASA)

Hybrid catheter and surgical ablation, available at UNC Medical Center, treats persistent or hard-to-manage atrial fibrillation using a new, minimally invasive procedure that creates small areas of scar tissue on the heart.

Electrophysiology (EP) Lab

Your procedure may take place in one of the North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital’s sophisticated electrophysiology (EP) labs. There, your doctor can use MediGuide, which incorporates GPS technology to show the heart and blood vessels in real time and reduce your radiation exposure. We were the third hospital in the nation to offer this technology.

Learn Your Risk

Take an online Heart Aware, Vascular Aware or PAD Aware assessment to discover your odds of developing a cardiovascular disease. You’ll find out if you qualify for further screenings or consultations.

Reduce Your Stroke Risk

Reduce Your Stroke RiskIf you have atrial fibrillation, explore two options for reducing your risk of stroke: the new WatchmanTM device or the Lariat® procedure. Each serves as an alternative to blood-thinning medications.

North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital

Dr Usher - NC Heart HospitalWe built the North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital for many reasons. To bring the most advanced technology to our community. To gather top specialists in one location. To teach others how to lead heart healthy lives. But the best reasons are our patients.

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