What Is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist?
A Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist is a physician with highly specialized training. After completing Medical School, an Electrophysiologist must complete a three years residency training in Internal Medicine, three years residency training in Cardiology and an additional one year fellowship training in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, for a total of seven years of training beyond Medical School.
How Does the Heart Function?
The heart is a muscle that requires two essential components to ensure its proper activity which is to pump blood to the lungs and throughout the rest of the body. These two components are the “plumbing system” and the “electrical system” of the heart. The “plumbing system”, consists of all the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. These blood vessels are called the coronary arteries and a reduction or interruption of blood flow through the coronary arteries results in angina (chest pain) and/or myocardial infarction (death) of that part of the heart muscle supplied with blood by the blocked artery. Doctors that treat blocked arteries in the heart, are called INTERVENTIONAL CARDIOLOGISTS, and perform cardiac catheterizations, angioplasties and stent placements. In more severe cases, bypass of these coronary arteries can be performed by CARDIOTHORACIC SURGEONS.
The “electrical system” of the heart consists of the nerves that make the heart muscle contract and direct the order of contraction of the four heart chambers so they act in synchrony to optimize the amount of blood pumped by the heart for a specific activity. Abnormalities in the electrical system of the heart are typically expressed by heart rates that are too fast, too slow or by irregular heart rhythms. CARDIAC ELECTROPHYSIOLOGISTS, like Dr. John R. Dylewski, work primarily with the electrical system of the heart to restore the proper contraction of the heart muscle to optimize the heart’s output and function. The interaction of the heart's electrical system with the brain is also a focus in cardiac electrophysiology, such as in conditions of autonomic dysfunction (dysautonomias). This is achieved through a number of procedures described below.