A cardiologist who specializes in the study of electrical impulses that affect cardiac rhythm is known as an electrophysiologist. It takes many years of study to become an electrophysiologist. Patients with cardiac arrhythmias or to determine their risk of cardiac disease or sudden cardiac arrest will seek the advice of an electrophysiologist. To become an electrophysiologist, a doctor must have a strong interest in the electrical workings of the heart.
It takes a long time to become an electrophysiologist. Medical school must be completed for four years, followed three years in a residency program. Following that, they will pursue a fellowship in cardiology, which could take two to three years. Electrophysiology can only be studied after that, which can take up to two years. From start to finish, becoming an electrophysiologist can take up to twelve years.
Patients will be referred to the doctor once they have completed their training as an electrophysiologist, either general practitioners or cardiologists. They can conduct a variety of tests to determine the presence and severity of cardiac abnormalities and arrhythmias. These procedures range from simple, non-invasive procedures like echocardiograms and the implantation of external cardiac rhythm monitors to more invasive procedures like electrophysiology studies and pacemaker implantation.
Echocardiograms capture the heart’s electrical impulses and allow an electrophysiologist to determine what type of arrhythmia is present, if any. A Holter monitor can be used on a patient to determine how well their heart is working over time. It records the heart’s continuous function for a day or two. An event recorder, on the other hand, is a device that responds only when there is a change in cardiac rhythm and sends a signal. All of these factors contribute to determining the type of arrhythmia and the best treatment options.
The patient is hooked up to an IV line and various monitors during an electrophysiology study, which is performed under highly controlled conditions in the electrophysiology lab, and will be given medication to relax but not put them to sleep. A local anesthetic will be injected into the groin area where a small incision will be made to insert the catheter. This is then channeled into the heart. To increase the heart rate, a pacemaker is used, and medications may be given to see how they work. Throughout, constant monitoring is carried out.
A pacemaker, medication, or surgery may be recommended depending on what is discovered. The procedure may take two to four hours, and the patient can usually return home afterward. Because of the sedative, they should be driven a friend or family member. An electrophysiologist’s job is highly specialized and complex, requiring years of training and experience.