Electrophysiology and the World Wide Web

Richard Lovett, RN
Richard Lovett, RN
In today s computerized society, the internet has become a regular source of information. Common search engines like www.google.com and www.dogpile.com are used to research anything that comes to mind. However, in electrophysiology, the terminology is like a new language with cycle lengths for beats per minute and more acute definitive terminology for the anatomical positions within the heart like the thebesian valve. Learning the concepts of electrophysiology is not as difficult as one might think, though, if you have a good resource. The information available about electrophysiology on the internet is quite extensive, if you know where to go. I have researched many websites, and think there are many that are helpful in aiding an understanding to most of the procedures performed in the EP lab. Some of the websites have web rings, or links to other websites which can lead you to stumble upon other informative websites. First let me begin with a good basis for internet searching: www.eplab.com. I visit this site on a regular basis, to stay in touch with the electrophysiology community. The website www.cathlab.com has some great information on lab culture and some great links, but for the growing specialty of electrophysiology, www.eplab.com is a great starting place. Another wonderful website is www.bardep.com. It provides great educational information related to electrophysiology. Bard has education modules for continuing education units, and a glossary which can help explain some of the EP terminology. As allied health professionals, we all know of the varying cases that are performed in the lab. We all do electrophysiology studies, ablation work, as well as devices, both pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD). Creating a great cohesive team is dependent upon the staffs understanding of the procedure, and we all want an informed team working to make those long cases go just a little quicker. Understanding the concepts and steps involved in an atrial flutter ablation is quite different than what is involved in an ischemic ventricular tachycardia ablation. These websites provide an educational knowledge base which is ready to be explored and absorbed. Many of the patients planning to undergo an ablation or device implantation will be surfing the web, gathering as much information as possible. So should we. When I first started in the EP lab, I was in awe of the room in general. There was so much more going on than in the cath lab room. There was someone working the Bloom pacing stimulator and the Prucka computerized monitoring system. There was someone circulating the room, getting all of the catheters and cables for the physician and plugging them into the computer pin blocks. There was another person scrubbed in, assisting the physician. Another staff member, usually a RN or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), was providing conscious sedation or general anesthesia. The computer screens were busy with electrographic information going at 200 ms, and I was hooked! I wanted to know what each electrogram was and what every little blimp or bump meant. The staff and physician were very helpful in teaching me the basic concepts by drawing pictures and explaining things to me, but I needed to read it. I needed to know more. Where was I to look? I looked online for books which were recommended to me at www.amazon.com, but many were too expensive. I had returned to my computer and the World Wide Web. I first looked up several of the industry leaders, such as: Guidant Corporation, www.guidant.com; Medtronic, Inc., www.medtronic.com; and St. Jude Medical, www.sjm.com. These sites provide areas for both patients and medical professionals. They provide information on heart basics, conditions and treatments, procedures, and a newsletter. Guidant Corporation s website (www.guidant.com) provides great information with downloadable PowerPoint presentation slides, and a tremendous amount of educational information for the health care provider. All medical professionals can benefit from the insightful information on electrophysiology, pacing, and defibrillation provided by the fully comprehensive Guidant website, which is easy to navigate. St. Jude Medical s website (www.sjm.com) provides a good base of information for the patient who wants to know more about their medical condition. They can click on Conditions or Procedures to look up their particular treatment. Medtronic, Inc. s website (www.medtronic.com) is another fantastic website. The main homepage provides different routes for the internet surfer. Click on Information for Physicians, and there is some great pacing and defibrillation information and specifics about each of their devices under the Cardiology specialty link. Medtronic also has another website (www.optseries.com) that leads you to Medtronic Connect, which provides online presentation tools for the health care provider. Although the name of the North American Society for Pacing and Electrophysiology has changed to the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), their website (www.hrsonline.org) is still a great and informative website. The Heart Rhythm Society has fantastic information on EP history, key facts on electrophysiology, arrhythmias, heart disease, devices, sudden cardiac death, research in the news, and so much more. Two sections, Members & Professionals and Patients & Public, lead you to informative areas for EP professionals and patients. Patients & Public provides basic knowledge on sudden cardiac death, ICDs, and catheter ablations, as well as providing email notifications on the most updated information. It has shared patient stories and also heart failure information such as symptoms, risk factors and prevention, and what treatments are available. The Members & Professionals page has information on the Heart Rhythm Society, professional education opportunities, and dates for scientific sessions. Also, the website lists an interactive directory to help find an EP specialist or lab in your area. In addition, there are links to other informative areas like the American College of Cardiology s website www.acc.org. Another favorite is www.pubmed.com. The links associated with www.hrsonline.org will take you to just about anywhere you want to go to find information about electrophysiology. This website definitely needs to be bookmarked and saved under favorites. Like an iceberg, I have only shown you the top. I apologize for leaving out many other informative websites. These are only a few of the websites which scratch the surface.