An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a two-dimensional representation of the electrical activity of the heart and is the primary tool utilized to diagnose arrhythmias.
Each year, more than 4,500 electrocardiograms (ECGs or EKGs) are performed in our fully equipped noninvasive electrodiagnostic facility.
The graded exercise test is another important component of assessing a child’s cardiovascular health. About 350 are performed each year.
A Holter monitor provides a 24- to 48-hour continuous recording of a patient’s ECG. About 400 Holter studies are performed each year at Children’s Heart Centre.
A semi-supine stress echocardiogram uses echocardiography during exercise to obtain detailed information about the heart’s response to exertion.
The normal electrical activation of the heart travels through the atria to the atrioventricular node and then down specialized conduction cells to activate the ventricles. Disturbances of the rhythmic beating of the heart are known as arrhythmias. All children with congenital heart disease require ongoing follow-up for the possible development of arrhythmias. In addition, each year many children without structural heart disease present with arrhythmias.
Diagnostic electrophysiology studies are carried out in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.
Radiofrequency catheter ablation is a technique developed in the early 1980s to successfully treat a large number of arrhythmias. The electrical activity of the heart can be studied in detail using specialized catheters placed into the heart through a large vein, usually in the leg. This procedure is done with members of the adult electrophysiology program at St. Paul’s Hospital.
One of the challenges of diagnosing rhythm disorders in children is to capture the arrhythmia event. Children’s Heart Centre has leading-edge equipment to allow patients to transmit their heart rhythm through the telephone. In addition to ECGs performed on children in Lower Mainland, Children’s Heart Centre interprets pediatric ECGs and Holter monitors from all over the province.
A pacemaker is sometimes needed to treat slow heart rhythms.
A pacemaker consists of a battery, programmable hardware (generator) and a lead that connects the device to the heart.
Each year more than 100 children with pacemakers and implantable defibrillators are cared for by a specialized team at the Children’s Heart Centre.