If you are considering having an Afib ablation procedure to remedy your heart arrhythmia you may be wondering about what you should expect before, during, and after the treatment. By knowing what you will face you can be prepared for what will happen and can face the ablation procedure with a bit more confidence which in turn will should help to make the procedure more successful.
Afib ablation is a newer treatment for heart arrhythmia problems. The usual cause for heart arrhythmia is an electrical malfunction in the heart. Afib ablation corrects the electrical abnormality as best as possible with a success rate of around 85%. Also since the treatment is only minimally invasive hospital stays are reduced with many patients leaving the same day and if a second procedure is necessary there is little apprehension.
Before the Afib ablation date you will be instructed on which medicines you need to reduce or stop taking entirely. You will know to not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before the procedure. Your doctor may have more instructions for you depending on your health situations.
The Afib ablation is meant to be an outpatient procedure but for a certain percentage there will be at least an over night stay. Once again your health situation will be the determining factor for the length of your stay. Even though you will not be heavily sedated during the procedure you will be required to have someone available to drive you home.
Once you are wheeled into the treatment area you will be given sedation to make you drowsy. A thin tube called a sheath will be inserted into the groin area or possibly your neck. The sheath will allow a catheter to be inserted into an artery that leads to the heart and the doctor will guide the catheter painlessly to the heart with the use of Xray.
Once the problem areas are determined the Afib ablation will be performed. In lay mans terms there will be either heat or cold applied to the heart to produce scarring which will block the abnormal electrical signals to to the area of the heart where the heartbeat originates.
The patient may experience a burning or slight heartburn sensation as the Afib ablation is performed but it is generally very mild. The catheter as it is guided to the heart is painless and the sensation of having an IV put in your arm is what the insertion of the sheath can be compared with.
After the procedure you will be rolled into a recuperating room and will stay there until released by the doctor. At the time of release you will be given instructions about which medications to take and what activities you will need to limit. Most patients can be back to near normal activities in 3 or 4 days. Your health situation will determine your length of recuperation.
Most people do not have any complications caused by the procedure. Those who do may experience infection at the entry point of the sheath as well as bleeding and bruising. One percent or less experience more major complications such as heart attack or stroke.
Armed with this information you can face the procedure confidently. Just knowing the short recuperation period and almost non existent pain makes the Afib ablation procedure easy to face.