Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to manage heart arrhythmias. The arrhythmias occur once the electrical signals in the heart causes it to beat rapidly or irregularly.
Remember that arrhythmias prevent the heart from pumping adequate blood throughout the body. This can lead to serious issues such as blood clots. If cardiac ablation is done, it involves energy to destroy the abnormal heart tissue that disrupts with the electrical signals of the heart.
The procedure utilizes the following forms of energy:
Take note that cardiac ablation is the only method utilized to manage arrhythmias.
How is it done?
The doctor might recommend cardiac ablation to manage certain forms of abnormal heart rhythms. It is often required for arrhythmias that occur often or last for a long time. The procedure is also used if medications do not work or trigger serious side effects. Cardiac ablation is used to manage these arrhythmias:
- Atrial fibrillation occurs if the electrical signals move too rapidly and irregularly via the atria which causes it to quiver instead of pumping effectively.
- Atrial flutter occurs if the electrical signals move regularly but at a rapid pace via the atria which causes it to quickly beat.
- Supraventricular tachycardia occurs if erratic electrical signals from the atria triggers an excessively rapid heartbeat. This can become serious even dangerous if not promptly treated.
What are the risks and potential complications?
The complications from cardiac ablation are uncommon but any procedure involves certain risks and complications.
The complications can become serious in rare instances that might develop during or while recovering. The usual risks and complications include the following:
- Adverse reaction linked to sedation or contrast agents
- Blood clots that can cause a stroke or heart attack
- Damage to the blood vessels, heart or lungs
- Heart block that requires permanent placement of a pacemaker
How will I feel after the procedure?
After cardiac ablation, there is minimal tenderness and bruising at the site of the catheter incision. The doctor will manage the pain to provide comfort. A doctor must be consulted if there is pain or increasing discomfort at the incision site since it might be an indication of a complication.
Mild drowsiness can occur and it is recommended to take it easy during the initial 1-2 days after going home. Many can resume light activities within 24 hours but avoid any stress on the incision site such as straining during bowel movement, heavy lifting and any strenuous activity for at least 3 days.
Make sure that the incision is dry and clean. Aspirin might be recommended by the doctor to be taken for several weeks to prevent blood clots.