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The heart is a pump that is constantly beating to deliver blood to all parts of the body. For the heart to be effective, the heart’s “plumbing system” and “electrical system” must both work well together. The electrical system “listens in” to what else is going on in the body (for example, the individual is at rest or asleep, up and walking around, playing and jumping, or angry or sick), and adjusts the heartbeats accordingly — slow and steady when deeply asleep, and much faster with exercise.
When there is a suspected problem with someone’s heart, cardiologists with special training figure out what the issue is and determine the best way to treat it. In children, many of these issues involve the plumbing of the heart; that is, the size and strength of the cardiac chambers, any holes in the heart that don’t belong, the valves that help blood move forward in one direction through the heart (and not backward!), and the blood vessels bringing blood into and out of the heart.
Sometimes the heart’s normal electrical coordination is disturbed, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow or very irregular. When this happens, the person may feel strange heartbeats (palpitations), chest pain, lightheadedness or dizzy, possibly faint (syncope), or even worse. Some patients with otherwise seemingly normal hearts can suddenly develop disturbances in the heart’s rhythm (also called “arrhythmias”). Patients born with plumbing abnormalities (holes in the heart, abnormal valves, etc.) are more likely to develop arrhythmias, whether or not they’ve had surgery to correct or improve the heart’s plumbing.
At Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, we have a specialized cardiology team with expertise in diagnosing and treating arrhythmias in children and adults with congenital heart disease. These cardiac “electricians” are available 24/7 to work with many other health care teams, including other cardiologists and heart surgeons focusing on the heart’s plumbing and providers in the emergency department, pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, in outpatient clinics in Louisville and across Kentucky through online web-based services.
Electrophysiologists are “electricians of the heart” who are able to find out what causes abnormal heartbeats through a careful understanding of the patient’s medical history and symptoms. They also use tests, including different types of electrocardiograms. Sometimes a minimally invasive procedure like an electrophysiology study is required to confirm a diagnosis. Once complete understanding of the patient’s arrhythmia has been made, physicians may or may not need to treat the issue. If treatment is required, we have the experience, resources and support to treat any cause, whether that involves medication, catheter-based treatments like ablation, implanting a pacemaker or defibrillator, or working with our heart surgeons during open heart surgery.
Norton Children’s Hospital is home to Kentucky’s only electrophysiology laboratory dedicated to children. At Norton Children’s Heart Institute, our electrophysiologists work closely with specially trained nurses and technicians in the Electrophysiology Laboratory to fully evaluate, treat and often cure many arrhythmias in children.
Clinics collaborate with health care providers in general pediatric cardiology, adult congenital heart disease, advanced heart failure, cardiomyopathy, cardiac transplantation and genetics.
The electrophysiology program works closely with physicians and programs within Norton Children’s Heart Institute. Other providers in Kentucky routinely refer patients to Norton Children’s Heart Institute for complex cases. We perform all diagnostic testing, surgeries and follow-up care at Norton Children’s Hospital.
Norton Children’s providers are skilled in treating heart conditions in children. You can draw strength, comfort and confidence from our highly trained specialists, including: