Questions to Ask at Your Initial Electrophysiological Consultation

September 29, 2022

Doctor showing patient information on tablet

Much like any condition or disease process, we want our patients to know as much as possible about the condition and the treatment options available to them. When patients are diagnosed and treated for arrhythmia by someone who is not an electrophysiologist, the treatment plan can be somewhat limited, usually extending to medical therapies but no further. When you visit an electrophysiologist, however, you quickly realize that EPs’ technology to diagnose arrhythmias is far more advanced than that commonly available at other medical offices. You may also note that EPs can perform procedural interventions for Afib and other arrhythmias if lifestyle changes and medical therapy have not been successful or if the patient does not tolerate their medication. If you’re wondering how common that is, about 50% of patients either don’t receive a benefit or cannot continue their medication.

Here are a few preliminary questions that you may ask your EP:

What is Afib, and what are the consequences?

Afib or atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the atria or upper chambers of the heart beat too quickly. It is known as cardiac arrhythmia and, more specifically, tachycardia. While the condition is not inherently dangerous in most people, we worry about the potential five-fold increase in stroke risk and associated heart attack. As such, patients should see a qualified electrophysiologist at the earliest possible opportunity if they are diagnosed with Afib or feel heart palpitations that are not an emergency.

What are my treatment options?

When addressing Afib, we must take a stepped approach to your care. Early treatments include lifestyle changes and improved diet and exercise regimens. Medical therapy is also a good option for patients that can tolerate it. If these more conservative options fail, we look toward a more permanent solution in the form of cardiac catheter ablation. We can either use heat or cold to destroy or ablate offending heart tissue and return the heart to a normal rhythm.

Is there a way to treat the underlying issues causing my Afib?

While not the most common reason for Afib, there are times when an underlying heart condition or even medications cause or worsen the arrhythmia. In these cases, we give our patients a complete evaluation to understand the underlying causes. If they are treatable, we address them to reduce the risk of continued arrhythmia episodes.

Will I have to be on medications forever?

If medications effectively control your Afib or other arrhythmias, your cardiologist or electrophysiologist will likely keep you on them over the long term. However, if you are referred for cardiac catheter ablation, chances are that medical therapy has not worked for you or was intolerable. In well-qualified patients, many can eliminate their medication regimen for Afib or, at the very least, reduce the dosage.

You’ll likely have many more questions about atrial fibrillation and its treatment. These questions can be raised with Dr. Banker during your initial consultation as you learn more about the procedure and whether you are a good candidate for a catheter-based intervention. Most importantly, you should feel comfortable about the procedure you are about to undergo. We look forward to seeing you at the office for your consultation.