Electrophysiology is the study of the electrical properties of biological organs, including the heart. The Division of Pediatric Cardiology provides a wide range of electrophysiology services. There are times when a slow heart beat or fast heart beat is not normal and your doctor may refer your child to a pediatric cardiologist for further investigation.
Usually the heart beat beats at regular intervals. The heart rate is the number of times the heart beats in one minute. The normal heart rate depends on one’s age as well as activity and environment. For example, exercise, fear, fever, and excitement will make the heart beat faster. During sleep, the heart rate is slower.
An irregular heart rate is called an arrhythmia, and can occur at any age and during different times. The irregular rhythm may last a very short time or last much longer. Often, your child does not feel the irregular rhythm and it is discovered unexpectedly during a routine physical examination. Your child’s doctor may suggest consultation with a pediatric cardiologist if an arrhythmia is detected. There are several types of abnormal heart rhythms. It is important for the pediatric cardiologist to determine the type of arrhythmia so recommended treatment and follow-up plans are appropriate.
Our Division of Pediatric Cardiology also provides a timely and efficient referral service for more advanced electrophysiology studies such as pacemaker insertion and interrogation, invasive electrophysiology studies and ablations, and other more complicated procedures and studies.
Our tests include:
Several stickers are placed on the arms, legs, and across the chest wall and wires are attached to record an ECG. The procedure is quick and does not hurt.
If an arrhythmia is suspected to come and go and is not identified by a single ECG, the Holter monitor may be useful investigation tool by recording the heart’s electric activity over longer periods of time. The monitor is portable and the size of a lip balm or lipstick tube. The device usually records 24 to 48 hours of your child’s heart rhythm. After the monitor is returned, a computer is used to scan the recording and report suspicious arrhythmias. Your child will be provided a diary to record any symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, or chest pain which may occur while the monitor is attached.
Similar to equipment found in a regular gym, the treadmill exercise test involves increasing speeds and inclines. Your child first walks, then runs, on a treadmill while heart rate, blood pressure, and heart rhythm are being recorded. Depending on the arrhythmia, this test may be useful in determining how exercise effects the arrhythmia.
If your child’s arrhythmia or symptoms occur only once in a while, an event recorder may be helpful in trying to identify the arrhythmia. There are several different type of event monitors. The monitors are send to your home and usually kept for a month or two. When appropriate, the ECG is recorded and transmitted by phone to your cardiologist who can read it and contact you if there is a problem.