What is Atrial Fibrillation Ablation?
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a chaotic heart rhythm.
Atrial fibrillation ablation helps maintain a normal heart rhythm. Ablation uses small burns or freezes to cause some scarring on the inside of the heart that helps to break up electrical signals that cause an irregular heart rhythm. This can return your heart to normal sinus rhythm (SR).
Why do I need Atrial Fibrillation Ablation?
Atrial fibrillation (AF) can cause some unpleasant symptoms like shortness of breath and heart palpitations. It also greatly increases the risk of stroke and anticoagulation medicines pose their own risks.
Ablation controls the symptoms of atrial fibrillation, but usually does not eliminate the needs for medication for stroke prevention.
If you have atrial fibrillation that has lasted for 7 days or less, ablation may be more likely to work long-term. It may not work as well long-term if you’ve had more persistent atrial fibrillation. Your Cardiologist will decide if you need AF Ablation.
What happens during Atrial Fibrillation Ablation?
You will usually have a general anaesthetic.
Your Cardiologist will put catheters into a blood vessel in the groin and thread it up to the heart giving them access to the collecting chambers (Atria) inside your heart. The catheter is then used to scar a small area of the heart by making small burns or small freezes. Radio frequency energy will be used to make small burns, and a technique called Cryoablation is used to create small freezes.
The scarring helps prevent the heart from conducting the abnormal electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation.
You will usually be sent home the same day.
Risks with Ablation
Most who undergo atrial fibrillation ablation have a successful outcome, although there are risks including:
- In the groin – bleeding, infection or pain from the catheter insertion
- Damage to the blood vessels from the catheter
- Puncture to the heart
- Damage to the heart
- Blood clots
- Narrowing of the pulmonary veins
- Radiation exposure
You can discuss any concerns you may have with your OneWelbeck Consultant Cardiologist.