Heart Rhythm Disorders

University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview has been focused on curing heart rhythm disorders for patients – from the first cardiac pacemaker in the 1950s to some of the first bi-ventricular pacemakers and defibrillators in the 1990s to many of today’s state-of-the-art catheters.

The result is patients who no longer have to worry about their heart problems for the rest of their lives.

From expert diagnosis to tested treatment

When you see the electrophysiologists from University of Minnesota Physicians Heart at Fairview, you are in the hands of experienced cardiologists. Our physicians have cared for thousands of patients with heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmia).

Our electrophysiologists:

  • Are renowned for innovative and effective approaches to the evaluation and treatment of heart rhythm disturbances and fainting spells (syncope)
  • Have engaged in research that promises a 50 percent improvement in cardiac arrest resuscitation rates
  • Pioneered cardiac resynchronization therapy, a technique especially beneficial for patients with refractory heart failure

We use a wide array of technologies and techniques to diagnose the most complex cases and determine the best treatment, which may include medication, implanted devices, surgery or ablation.

Scheduling
  • Patients – Schedule appointments by calling: 612-365-5000.
  • Physicians – Call our physician line for consultations or referrals: 612-365-6000.
Heart rhythm disorder services are available at:

Holter monitor. This monitor is worn under your clothes for up to three days. Small electrodes on your chest connect to the monitor, which is especially useful for detecting a very slow or very rapid heart rate.

Event monitor. Also called a loop recorder, an event monitor is useful for patients with intermittent arrhythmias. Typically worn for a month, the device continuously records your heartbeat. When you feel your heartbeat change, you press a button to freeze the recording captured seconds before.

Stress test. This test is used for those people who develop an arrhythmia that can best be seen when exercising.
 

Electrophysiology (EP) study. An EP study uses electrical stimulation with a catheter (a long, thin, flexible tube) in different locations in the heart. It can help diagnose slow or rapid heartbeats.

Implantable loop recorder. This recorder is put under the skin for anywhere from one to three years. It is reserved for people who have very infrequent symptoms.

3-D Mapping. Like GPS, this procedure maps the heart. A catheter is inserted through a vein and positioned at various spots in the heart where it can do double duty—locating the point in the heart muscle responsible for an arrhythmia and ablating or burning it away.
 

Pacemakers can benefit people who suffer sinus node dysfunction or atrioventricular (AV) conduction block, two different forms of arrhythmia. This small, implantable device delivers electrical impulses to the heart muscle to initiate the heartbeat when the natural electric system of the heart fails to initiate or pass electrical signals properly.

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is for people who have survived or are at high risk for a cardiac arrest or life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia. An ICD can protect you from dying from a cardiac arrest by delivering brief, high-voltage shocks to the heart. The ICD can stop rapid heart racing, called ventricular tachycardia, by delivering bursts of electrical impulses to the heart without shocks. The ICD can also function as a pacemaker.

CRT, or cardiac resynchronization therapy, is another form of special ICD or pacemaker for patients with 1) persistent symptoms of heart failure despite optimal medical therapy and 2) evidence of uncoordinated ventricle contraction. The CRT improves the coordination of ventricular contraction and, therefore, the efficiency of the heart’s pumping function.

Catheter ablation can be used to cure a variety of arrhythmias, including supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia (VT) and atrial fibrillation. Special catheters are inserted into the heart, where a high-frequency current heats up and destroys the muscle that generates the arrhythmia. Cryoablation uses freezing to destroy arrhythmia tissue. Catheter ablation does not require an incision or open-heart surgery.