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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- An electrophysiology study (EPS) is a test to show the electrical activity in your heart. Your heart has an electrical system inside it that controls your heart's rhythm (heartbeat). A problem with your heart's electrical system may lead to abnormal heartbeats. Abnormal heartbeats include bradycardia (too slow), tachycardia (too fast), and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Abnormal heartbeats may cause symptoms, such as dizziness, fainting, breathing problems, and chest pain. Abnormal heartbeats may also cause palpitations (strong heartbeats you can feel in your chest, neck, and throat). EPS helps caregivers find the area in your heart causing abnormal heartbeats. Some problems with your heart's electrical system can be fixed during the test.
- When you have abnormal heartbeats, you may need medicine to make your heart beat regularly. An EPS may be done to check how well your heart medicine is working. EPS can also be done to check if a pacemaker (device to control your heartbeat) is working correctly. During an EPS, a catheter (a long, thin, bendable tube) is put in your heart. The catheter records your heart's electrical activity. Caregivers may also use the catheter to make your heart beat at certain times. An EPS may show the cause of your abnormal heartbeats and help your caregiver plan your treatment. An EPS may correct your abnormal heartbeats and relieve your symptoms, such as dizziness and trouble breathing.
- Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
- Heart medicine: This medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat. It also may help your heart in other ways. Talk with your caregiver to find out what your heart medicine is and why you are taking it.
- Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take at home to take away or decrease pain. Your caregiver will tell you how much to take and how often to take it. Take the medicine exactly as directed by your caregiver.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine:
Avoid alcohol and caffeine to decrease your risk for abnormal heartbeats. Alcohol and caffeine can cause palpitations and increase your heart rate. Alcohol is found in beer, wine, whiskey, and other adult drinks. Caffeine is found in coffee, chocolate, some sodas, and other drinks.
Check your heartbeat:
Ask your caregiver to show you how to check your own pulse (heartbeat). Ask your caregiver how many times per minute your heart should beat. Also ask your caregiver what to do if your heartbeat is too fast, too slow, or irregular.
Do not take illegal drugs:
Illegal drugs, such as cocaine can cause abnormal, fast heartbeats. Talk with your caregiver if you take illegal drugs and need help to stop.
Manage your medical conditions:
High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol (fat), and diabetes (high blood sugar) can lead to abnormal heartbeats. Work with your caregiver to manage your medical conditions and decrease your risk for heart problems.
If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking harms your body in many ways. You are more likely to have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
Ask your caregiver for instructions on how to care for the area where the catheter was inserted.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You feel dizzy or light-headed.
- You feel new or more palpitations in your chest, neck or throat.
- You have a fever.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
- You have questions or concerns about your procedure or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- The area where the catheter was put in is bleeding and will not stop.
- The area the catheter was put in is warm, red, swollen, or has pus coming from it.
- You faint (pass out).
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Your hand or foot becomes numb (loss of feeling), cold, or turns blue.
- Call 911 or an ambulance if you have any signs of a heart attack:
- Discomfort in the center of your chest that feels like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain, that lasts for more than a few minutes or keeps returning
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or one or both of your arms
- Feeling sick to your stomach
- Having trouble breathing
- A sudden cold sweat, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
- Feeling very lightheaded or dizzy, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
- You have signs of a stroke: The following signs are an emergency. Call 911 immediately if you have any of the following:
- Weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face (may be on only one side of your body)
- Confusion and problems speaking or understanding speech
- A very bad headache that may feel like the worst headache of your life
- Not being able to see out of one or both of your eyes
- Feeling too dizzy to stand
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.