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Electrophysiology at BIDMC has long been recognized for its pioneering and innovative role in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders. The CVI's Harvard-Thorndike Electrophysiology Institute and Arrhythmia Service is the oldest, largest program of its kind in New England, providing specialized arrhythmia care for patients from around the region and around the world.
What is an Arrhythmia?
The CardioVascular Institute's expert electrophysiologists treat patients with all types of conditions that cause abnormal heartbeats, from atrial fibrillation to ventricular tachycardia.
The CardioVascular Institute's Arrhythmia Monitoring or Holter Laboratory performs studies for patients with suspected heart rhythm abnormalities with or without symptoms. We work closely with the electrophysiology service in identifying high-risk patients for sudden cardiac death and other serious arrhythmias, and in monitoring patients starting on anti-arrhythmic drugs. We also provides arrhythmia surveillance for patients after ablation procedures, including ablations for atrial fibrillation.
The lab's state-of-the-art technology includes 24-hour and 48-hour Holter monitors, and patient-activated event recorders for two-week monitoring periods. Scans are reviewed immediately by a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist. Referring physicians and patients receive prompt alerts when significant rhythm abnormalities are noted.
The CardioVascular Institute's Electrophysiology Lab offers the most advanced diagnosis and treatment methods, including non-surgical procedures, to control or cure a variety of arrhythmias, including:
Conduction disturbance not diagnosable by electrocardiograms (ECG) alone
Our lab provides 24-hour monitoring for arrhythmia diagnosis and management. Most patients experience excellent outcomes through a range of advanced treatment options. Our patients often benefit from education and support groups as well. Services include:
Outpatient arrhythmia management for patients with even the most complex arrhythmias
Syncope (fainting) clinic with a special focus on treating unexplained syncope
Intensive electrophysiologic (EP) evaluation to diagnose both clinical tachyarrhythmias (rapid heartbeats) and bradyarrhythmias (slow heartbeats) and test the effectiveness of medications
Catheter ablation, a non-surgical procedure in which physicians deliver radiofrequency energy to abnormal areas of the heart to control or cure a variety of abnormal heartbeats
Defibrillator and permanent pacemaker implantation
Transvenous lead extraction, using techniques that include laser sheaths, to remove scarred-over pacemaker and defibrillator wires from the heart
Biventricular pacing, a type of pacemaker that keeps the two lower heart chambers pumping blood in sync (for patients with advanced heart failure)
The CardioVascular Institute's outpatient Pacemaker and Defibrillator Clinic provides care for patients with implanted cardiac devices. Routine and urgent outpatient clinic appointments are available daily.
Implantable cardiac arrhythmia devices are used to treat slow heartbeats (bradyarrhythmias) or rapid heartbeats (ventricular tachyarrhythmias). Many patients also utilize the clinic's home monitoring program that permits automated device checks via the phone or internet between normally scheduled visits.
We also offers outpatient and inpatient consultation services for patients considering cardiac rhythm device placement, and for patients who require additional device management after placement.
Treatment for an irregular heartbeat may include medication, a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator, or other procedures.