Catheter ablation to treat atrial fibrillation.

Used to destroy small areas in the heart that may be causing heart rhythm problems.

What is it?

Cardiac ablation is a generally safe procedure used to treat certain abnormal heart rhythm problems that medicines are not controlling or for side effects. These problems may be dangerous for you if they are not treated due to the risk of blood clots. It can also help control the heart rate that are beating too fast. Your cardiologist may discuss the need for a cardiac ablation to treat:

  • - Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter
  • - Ventricular tachycardia
  • - Complex arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm)

What should I expect?

This procedure will be schedule ahead of time, as it needs to be performed in a hospital. You will be awake the entire time but given a mild sedative to help you relax. A local anesthetic will be given to the puncture site, typically the groin. A small, flexible tube (catheter) will be inserted through into one of the blood vessels. The cardiologist uses live x-ray images to carefully guide the catheter up into your heart at the site of where the abnormal cardiac cells are. Once the source of the problem has been found, painless electrical energy is sent to destroy the heart muscles causing the irregular heart beat. This creates a small scar that causes the heart rhythm problem to stop.

After the procedure, you will be moved to a recovery room. Pressure will be applied to the catheter insertion site to prevent bleeding. You will be asked to remain flat in bed for several hours and your vital signs monitored. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any chest pain, bleeding, or signs of infection such as redness, swelling, and increased pain.

Your cardiologist will discuss with you any medications that will need to taken after the procedure and when  you can return to normal activity.

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