What Is an Electrophysiologist (EP)?
An electrophysiologist or EP is a cardiologist with specialized training on improper heart rhythm. Beyond general cardiology training, EPs undergo about 2 years of additional specialization training. You can liken an electrophysiologist to a cardiac electrician, as our primary goal is to track and treat errant electrical signals in the heart that may cause irregular heartbeats, also known as arrhythmias. EPs treat both fast heartbeats – tachycardia, and slow heartbeats, known as bradycardia.
Electrophysiologists have a range of diagnostic tools at their disposal, many of which a general cardiologist would not. These tools include monitors that track a patient’s heart rhythm over a significant period of time versus the traditional EKG that one would normally find in their physician’s office. These tools are helpful in understanding the type and severity of the arrhythmia. EPs are often consulted prior to certain patients undergoing heart surgery and for patients who may be experiencing unexplained fainting known as syncope. Most arrhythmias are best treated by an EP as well.
Beyond diagnostic and tracking tools, your EP also has a suite of treatments available beyond lifestyle change and medication, which are typically suggested to newly diagnosed Afib patients. These tools include left atrial appendage closure, cardiac catheter ablation, cardiac cryoablation, pacemaker implantation and ICD implantation.
Electrophysiologists perform their procedures in a specialized cardiovascular operating room known as an EP lab. These labs are specially outfitted with devices and advanced equipment geared toward the management of heart rhythm disorders. Because of the advanced technology required, they are usually found in hospitals.