When most people have a heart condition they automatically assume they need to see a cardiologist. However, cardiologists do not specialize in treating every issue related to the heart. In some cases, you may need to see an electrophysiologist who has specialized expertise in treating certain heart conditions.

How is an electrophysiologist different from a cardiologist?

You probably know that the main function of the heart is to pump blood to vital organs throughout the body. That’s the area of the heart that cardiologists focus on. But you may not often think about how your heart knows it is supposed to pump blood throughout the body. It does so through electrical pulses, and sometimes those pulses get out of sequence and cause problems known as arrhythmias. This is the main area of expertise for electrophysiologists.

Some cardiologists only receive one year of training in the field of electrophysiology. Electrophysiologists, on the other hand, dedicate themselves to the study of the heart’s electrical system, and learn specifically how to diagnose and treat heart arrhythmias.

What conditions do electrophysiologists treat?

Electrophysiologists treat heart arrhythmias and other heart rhythm disorders. These can include irregular heartbeats, including instances where the heart beats too quickly (tachycardia), and when the heart beats too slowly (bradycardia).

One of the most common arrhythmias that electrophysiologists treat is atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib. AFib occurs when the heart’s upper chambers—the atria—contract irregularly. AFib is the most common type of heart arrhythmia in the U.S., and it is a leading cause of blood clots that can result in a deadly stroke.

How do I know if I need to see an electrophysiologist?

Seeking treatment from an electrophysiologist as soon as possible is crucial when you have a heart arrhythmia. Irregular heart rhythms can be accompanied by many different symptoms, or you may have a condition and not notice any symptoms at all. If you feel like your heart is fluttering, experience dizziness or weakness, have chest pain, or experience shortness of breath you should make an appointment with an electrophysiologist as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants. Dr. Dilip Mathew is board certified in Cardiology & Cardiac Electrophysiology and has been serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities including Port Charlotte, Venice, Tampa and Sun City Center for over a decade.