When Is It Time to See an Electrophysiologist?

November 20, 2023

Electrophysiologist listening to male patient's heartbeat with stethoscope, paperwork on desk

Electrophysiology is a fascinating medical field that leads the way in technology and innovation. Electrophysiologists have specialized training in issues specifically associated with the heart’s electrical system, and with modern technique and technology, we can treat several different concerns, like Afib and other arrhythmias, that once required far more invasive options or didn’t have any minimally invasive treatments. However, electrophysiology remains a specialty that many patients don’t know much about. So, when should you seek out an electrophysiologist or ask your primary care physician for a referral?

You Feel a Racing Heart, but No One Can Pinpoint the Cause

With over 5 million Americans suffering from Afib and even more experiencing electrical issues of the heart, whether beating fast or slow, many people are living with arrhythmias and have no idea what to do. This is partly because most primary care physicians, and even cardiologists, do not have the highly sensitive, long-term diagnostic testing equipment to help diagnose occasional Afib or other arrhythmias. If you consider the EKG, a world-changing invention, you also have to realize its limitations: it can only take a snapshot of your heart’s electrical activity. If, like most people, your Afib is intermittent or paroxysmal, you may not be diagnosed early enough.

As we’ve said elsewhere on this blog, early treatment of Afib is most effective, and paroxysmal Afib responds best to medical and procedural solutions, like cardiac catheter ablation.

You Are Experiencing Chronic Fatigue That Can’t Be Explained

To be sure, there are several conditions and diseases that could cause fatigue, but when it can’t be explained by any other concern, we often look toward Afib, even if there are no outward symptoms. Known as silent Afib, this is where patients experience a rapid heartbeat but generally don’t feel it. This is usually diagnosed incidentally when patients visit their doctor or hospital for a different condition. However, silent Afib overstresses the heart, causing chronic tiredness and a feeling that you can never quite catch up with rest or perform activities to your fullest. While Afib may be a potential cause, a slow heartbeat, known as bradycardia, can also have this effect. Just as electrophysiologists can treat a fast heartbeat, they can also treat a slow one with a pacemaker.

Genetics and Family History

Your cardiologist or primary care physician may have told you that one of the leading causes of heart disease is genetics and family history. This is true for heart rhythm and heartbeat as well. If a close family member or several family members have been diagnosed with heart rhythm-related disorders, you must discuss this with your primary care physician or cardiologist and consider a referral to an electrophysiologist. We can monitor your heart to understand if structural defects are causing electrical faults. We can also be there ready for any urgent care issues.

The Bottom Line

It’s always important to have a qualified team at the ready. In general, cardiac arrhythmias and cardiovascular disease require a specialized multidisciplinary team that can work with you on every aspect of your health and manage any concerns appropriately and quickly. Contact Dr. Banker to schedule a consultation.