In addition to other diagnostic procedures, your doctor will perform electrophysiology studies (EPS) to check for abnormal heartbeats. During EPS, your doctor inserts a special catheter into a vein in your neck or groin and threads it into your heart. Tiny electrodes at the tip of the catheter allow your doctor to send electrical signals to your heart and record its electrical activity. With this information, your doctor can identify your heart rhythm problem and locate the area(s) needing treatment.
The tests typically last one to four hours but could take longer if your doctor decides to perform treatment at the same time.
Types of Arrhythmia
Cardiac dysrhythmia (also known as arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat) is any of a large and heterogeneous group of conditions in which there is abnormal electrical activity in the heart. 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. The four main types of arrhythmia are:
- Premature (extra) beats – Too-early heartbeats that disrupt your heart’s rhythm; may occur in the upper chambers (premature atrial contractions) or the lower chambers (premature ventricular contractions) and usually need no treatment
- Supraventricular arrhythmias (also called Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia) – Fast heart rates, or tachycardias, that start in your heart’s upper chambers (atria) or atrioventricular (AV) node; includes atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
- Ventricular arrhythmias – Arrhythmias that start in the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles); includes ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation
- Bradyarrhythmias – A slower-than-normal heart rate, resulting in not enough blood flow to the brain