Answers to Common Electrophysiology Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about electrophysiology.

How does the electrical system of the heart work?

Premier Health’s Dr. Abdul Wase explains how the heart’s electrical system works. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


According to Dr. Bruce Wickoff, president of the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), the heart has two main functions—to pump blood and to remember to pump blood. He compares these two functions to a plumbing system and an electrical system, respectively. And, as Dr. Wase points out, the electrical system of the heart controls the mechanical pumping.

The Johns Hopkins University’s [Link to in a new window with off site icon and 3rd party content disclaimer] Health Library outlines how the electrical system functions to produce a normal heart rhythm:

      An electrical stimulus begins in the sinoatrial (SA) node, a mass of special cells in the right atrium (the upper right chamber). This impulse signals the atria to contract, pumping blood into the heart ventricles (lower chambers).
      The impulse travels from the SA node to the atrioventricular (AV) node.
      The impulse continues through the bundle of His into the ventricles. The impulse now signals the ventricles to contract, pumping blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Normally, the SA node generates an impulse 60 to 100 times per minute, resulting in a natural heart rhythm and pulse of 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are the result of problems with the electrical system. Electrical signals may be blocked, deviate from the normal conduction pathway or become irregular.

For more information about treatments available for your heart rhythm disorder, please speak with your health care provider, or call (937) 499-7472.

Learn more:

Source: Kevin Kravitz, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Mark E. Krebs, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists; Abdul Wase, MD, The Premier Heart Associates

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