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What is electrophysiology and why do I need an electrophysiologist?

Cardiac Electrophysiology (also known as clinical cardiac electrophysiology or arrhythmia services) is the fastest growing of all the cardiovascular disciplines. It is a branch of clinical cardiology and is dedicated to the study and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Cardiologists with expertise in this area are referred to as electrophysiologists.

These physicians have additional education and training in the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. Electrophysiologists are trained in the mechanism, function, and performance of the electrical activities of the heart. Training required to become an electrophysiologist is extensive and requires 7 to 8 years after medical school.

This includes three years of residency in Internal Medicine, three years of Clinical Cardiology fellowship, followed by one to two (in most instances) years of Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology. Electrophysiologists are trained to perform interventional and surgical procedures to treat cardiac arrhythmia. Due the extensive knowledge of the heart rhythm abnormalities and cardiac physiology and anatomy, procedures that traditionally were performed by other specialists, including surgeons, are increasingly done by electrophysiologist. Recent research has proved that certain procedures when performed by electrophysiologists have better outcome with less risk of complications.