What is an Electrophysiologist?
Electrophysiology is a subspecialty of cardiology, dealing in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. This relatively newer specialty is not well known to many patients. Electrophysiologists are, in fact, cardiologists, however they have continued their studies with an additional two-year specialization fellowship in the electrical rhythms of the heart. In fact, you could liken an electrophysiologist to an electrician – monitoring the electrical signals of the heart and using specialized techniques and equipment to restore the heart to normal function.
An electrophysiologist works in a specialized electrophysiology or EP lab. These operating rooms are very advanced, with state-of-the-art imaging systems to guide the catheter to the heart as well as mapping systems to digitally recreate the anatomy of the heart and its electrical signals.
How does an electrophysiologist differ from a general cardiologist? General cardiologists typically do not specialize in the electrical signals of the heart and often do not have the diagnostic tools to find occasional (paroxysmal) or complex arrhythmias or those that may not be readily apparent on an EKG. Electrophysiologists, on the other hand, work with these specialized diagnostic tools to track and monitor the patient’s heart rhythm and diagnose issues and treat even the most complex and unusual arrhythmias.
Typically, a general cardiologist will recommend lifestyle changes and medication for arrythmias while your electrophysiologist has curative procedures at their disposal as well.
Electrophysiologists work with your primary care physician and general cardiologist to coordinate care. They represent a central part of the treatment of any arrhythmia.