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One of the best ways to determine how well your heart is functioning and whether or not there may be any underlying heart rhythm abnormalities, is through a diagnostic electrophysiological study.

The cardiovascular team at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular, comprised of board certified cardiologists, nurses and cardiovascular technicians, offers this comprehensive procedure in our Portland location.

By measuring and analyzing the electrical activity in your heart, we can help you identify symptoms proactively and gain a deeper understanding of your heart function and condition.

What does a diagnostic electrophysiology study measure?

The study will be done to measure how fast the electrical signals are traveling through your heart travel. In addition, it will look at how well those impulses are pacing (your heartbeat and rhythm), and how they respond to specific drugs (doctors can accomplish this by temporarily stimulating an irregular heart rhythm).

Specifically, the test is designed to provide results that will inform your cardiovascular team on:

  • How well your heart’s electrical system is functioning overall
  • What factors are causing heart rhythm abnormalities
  • How effective certain drugs are on your condition
  • Determine whether your not you have an abnormality in your heartbeat and what the best course of action may be
  • Predicting whether you are at risk for any serious cardiac events
  • Determining whether follow-up interventions may be required, such as implanting a pacemaker or defibrillator (or how well a pacemaker is working if you already have one implanted)
  • Deciding whether to prescribe and/or alter medications 

What you should expect during a diagnostic electrophysiology study.

The Electrophysiology study is a safe and low risk procedure and follows a very specific process from start to finish.

  • X-ray table Patients start by lying on an x-ray table with a large, x-ray camera above as well as TV and heart monitors nearby. During this phase, the staff will be covered in sterile, protective gowns and masks to help keep you safe.
  • Cardiac Catheterization Then, the team uses a catheterization technique to thread thin wires to your heart. Catheterization involves taking a thin tube, inserting it into a blood vessel and then guiding wires to the heart’s right side. During this phase, patients may feel some slight pressure but generally no pain.
  • Monitoring and Recording Once the wires are in position, electric signals emitting from your heart are monitored and recorded for further analysis. While this data collection is occurring, your cardiologist may artificially increase your heart rate to look at the effect of any abnormal rhythm disruption, plus he or she may test the effectiveness of certain drugs.

The entire procedure generally takes 1-3 hours and avoiding strenuous activity of any kind is recommended following the procedure.

Am I a good candidate for a Diagnostic Electrophysiolgic study?

Many patients who are currently experiencing or have recently experienced symptoms related to irregular heartbeat may be referred for an Electrophysiology study. These symptoms may include: dizziness, weakness, palpitations and fainting spells.

As with any invasive procedure, always consult with your physician in advance to discuss your condition, risks and outcomes. 

To schedule an appointment in Portland, please call 503-257-0959.