Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation: Procedure, Benefits, Risks, Recovery

Cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is a procedure to treat the problems of heart beats. It is necessary to know about cardiac ablation and atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is also known as AF or AFib, is an abnormal heart rhythm and one of the major causes of heart stroke. Atrial fibrillation is more often an irregular and fast heart beat that often results in heart failure or heart related complications. In this article, we focus on understanding about cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation, the procedure, benefits, risks and recovery.

Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

Know About Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

AF or AFib is a short form used for atrial fibrillation problem that is directly related to the heart beats. The irregularity of heartbeat and quivering process leads to some fatal consequences like heart failure, clots and stroke. In atrial fibrillation one is unable to have normal hold heart beats while climbing upstairs, or carrying some stuff and walking on an inclined surface. Usually, heart contracts and relaxes on its specific interval beat, but in atrial fibrillation the upper chambers i.e. atria starts producing irregular beat called quivering. So the heartbeat is not that effective and doesn’t allow blood to move into ventricles completely. In case a clot breaks off and enters the bloodstream then it will lodge in an artery preceding towards brain and concluding to a heart stroke. In order to keep clots away blood thinners are given time to time to the patients who suffer from atrial fibrillation.

However, cardiac ablation is a process that may be required in some acute atrial fibrillation cases. Cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is a surgical procedure that uses energy to make scars on the heart surface on small areas that are involved in abnormal heart rhythm. The word “ablation” literally means the surgical removal of body tissue. This method is effective in preventing the abnormal electrical signal from travelling via human heart.

Procedure of Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

The procedure of cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is quite effective. It is marginally intrusive method to treat the medical condition called atrial fibrillation. One can get relief from its symptoms and improvise the normal lifestyle after the treatment is done.

While performing the ablation procedure, doctor rescinds small areas in the heart region that are actually responsible for the abnormal rhythm i.e. electrical signals.

A medicine is given to help in relaxing and a local anesthetic will numb the region where catheter will be inserted. At times only general anesthesia is utilized. The procedure can only be executed in the operation theatre under the supervision of medical officers.

Flexible and thin wires called catheters are inserted into vein regions via neck area. The catheter is passed through neck and veins to reach the heart area. An electrode is attached over the tip of the wire. Radio waves are sent out that creates heat.

The heat eliminates the tiny areas of heart tissue, which are actually causing atrial fibrillation.

Another method used in the procedure of cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is to freeze cold and destroy the tissue which is responsible for atrial fibrillation.

Moreover, abnormal pulses also travel from the internal region called pulmonary vein and become a valid reason for atrial fibrillation. The pulmonary veins have a function to bring blood back from the lung area towards the heart. To stop this process, catheter ablation is conducted and impulses are finally blocked.

Benefits of Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

Some of the most appreciated benefits of cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation include the following.

  • The Quality Of Life Is Improved- Cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation can help prevent uneven and irregular heart beat problems, able to normalize breathing while climbing stairs or while walking. On the other hand, you can keep yourself away from chest pain, anxiety and weakness.
  • Relieves Common Symptoms- Heart failure, stroke and many other fatal problems accompanied when atrial fibrillation takes place. So, after the treatment you able to live a healthy and peaceful life with better concentration levels. One of the major benefits of cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is relief from shortening of breath, heart palpitation and numbness.

Possible Risks of Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

Though, the treatment of cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is most widely accepted, there are a few risks, which need to be taken care of.

Here are the commonest risks of cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation.

  • Infection – Like in any surgical procedure, cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation also poses a risk of infection, in some cases. Where the catheter is inserted for treatment in atria region, there bleeding and some post-surgery infection can sustain. The medications and antibiotics to prevent infection are very significant. It is important to follow the complete course of post treatment medication so that no infection bleeding issues prevail.
  • Damage to Blood Vessels – Rupture of blood vessels and bleeding is another common risk involved in most surgical procedures including cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation. While inserting the catheter wires there may be chances of scrapping. At times, blood vessels are scrapped while travelling to the heart region, which can lead to post treatment pain and uneasiness.
  • Heart Puncture – In some rare cases, if the surgery does not go well, there is a risk of heart puncture. However, with latest technology and under the supervision of experienced surgeons it is less likely. It is advisable to seek medical aid from renowned and experienced cardiac specialists than an amateur practitioner.
  • Heart Valves Injury – The catheter wire can cause injury in the heart valves area. Contact your doctor if you find blood in vomiting or have chest pain.
  • Blood Clots – Another common risk of cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is of blood clots. In some cases, if the blood clots are removed during cardiac ablation method, the clots travel to some other areas of the body i.e. lungs or legs known as venous thromboembolism. To avoid this doctors usually give blood thinning injections pretreatment procedure and even after the surgery.
  • Organ Damage – Kidneys can be affected from the dye used during the cardiac ablation method.

Recovery in Cardiac Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

After cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation, you will get discharge from the hospital after 24 hours observation. It is advised not to hold heavy things, anything on the shoulder or bend down with sudden motions.

  • Food should be made in light oil like rice bran, olive oil or canola oil.
  • No fried food items should be given at least for a month
  • The patient recovers quickly within 3 weeks span in a complete manner when it is not necessary to take precautions in food items.
  • Driving or loud music should be avoided for more than 4 weeks

Final Thought

Atrial fibrillation is a serious problem which can lead to fatal complications like heart stroke or failure. Cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation is an effective treatment option and has many benefits too.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 2, 2018

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