Your heart is a complex electrical system. It’s constantly working to send electrical signals that trigger a heartbeat. This electrical current travels throughout the pathways of the heart, telling the chambers to pump, or squeeze and release in a rhythmic sequence that draws blood into the heart and pushes it out.
But trouble in any part of the heart’s components can disrupt the entire system. An arrhythmia, or abnormal heartbeat, can lead to stroke or heart failure. Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of arrhythmia, affects 2.2 million Americans and 4.5 million Europeans, and the incidence of these and other critical heart conditions is expected to rise.
Because of the sometimes unpredictable nature of arrhythmias, diagnosing AF can be difficult. An electrophysiology (EP) study may be performed to determine the type of arrhythmia or obtain more information for determining treatment. In the test, the EP doctor threads a catheter—a long, flexible tube entered through a vein in the groin—to the heart. The electrodes at the end of the catheter can map the electrical impulses, stimulate the heartbeat, or temporarily stop an arrhythmia with electrical impulses.
If medications and lifestyle changes have failed to correct or control AF, or cannot be tolerated by the patient, the doctor may perform a catheter ablation during the EP study. During the procedure, the source of the arrhythmia is mapped, localized, and then destroyed.
GE Healthcare offers a robust portfolio of products designed to empower the electrophysiologists’ critical thinking by providing the information they need to diagnose and treat difficult cardiac conditions, such as AF. As an integrated EP suite, the information is delivered in a way that helps the doctor focus on the patient, not the process.
“Our vision of the EP suite starts with intuitive, accurate and reliable diagnostic and treatment equipment that enhances the doctor’s ability to perform complex procedures with confidence. Then, we network the EP suite equipment together into one integrated system designed to address their needs and reduce the distractions of a hospital environment,” said Jean-Michel Milles, General Manager of Electrophysiology, GE Healthcare Interventional Systems.