On average, your heart beats about 70 times a minute, or more than 2.5 billion times over an average lifetime. Sometimes the heart doesn’t beat the way it should. Irregular heartbeat is called cardiac arrhythmia. An arrhythmia can be a serious, life-threatening event, or it can be an inconvenience that interrupts the activities of daily living.
St. Mary’s Electrophysiology Lab can diagnose and treat arrhythmias right here in Athens. Electrophysiology, or EP, is performed in St. Mary’s state-of-the-art dedicated EP Laboratory. Under anesthesia, a special tube called a catheter is inserted into a vein in your leg. Guided by x-ray images and sophisticated computer software, your physician gently maneuvers the catheter into your heart. Once the catheter is inside your heart, the physician can diagnose and often treat the cause of your arrhythmia through a process called ablation. Ablation involves cauterizing the tissue responsible for your condition. Most patients are able to go home the next day. Return to normal activity will depend on your specific diagnosis and treatment.
St. Mary’s has introduced a revolutionary new cardiac device to the Athens area: an implantable pacemaker that can safely function inside an MRI scanner, allowing patients to receive vital diagnostic scanning for conditions ranging from stroke to cancer. These state-of-the-art devices are implanted in the Cardiac Catheterization/Electrophysiology Laboratory at St. Mary’s Hospital. It is estimated that at least 50 percent of patients with implanted cardiac devices will need to undergo an MRI over the lifetime of their device. The MRI-safe pacemakers are a significant step forward in improving patient outcomes.
St. Mary’s comprehensive line of EP services and procedures include:
- Pacemaker and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) implants, including the new MRI-safe pacemaker
- Holter and event monitoring
- Tilt table testing
- Diagnostic EP study
- Catheter ablation of arrhythmia
- Resynchronization therapy for heart failure
Care is provided through physician referral. For referral, talk to your physician. For information about EP or St. Mary’s Cardiac Services, call 706-389-3440.