WHAT IS CARDIAC ABLATION?
Cardiac ablation can be described as the procedure that employs the use of heat or cold energy in other to create little scars in your heart which blocks abnormal electric signals, hence, restoring a normal heartbeat.
PURPOSE OF CARDIAC ABLATION
Cardiac ablation is done mostly for people with arrhythmias (that is, irregular heartbeat) and also sometimes during surgery.
There are electrical impulses that allow your heart to contract and relax. However, when there is a disruption to the pathway these signals must pass, which could lead to an abnormal heartbeat.
The doctor may recommend cardiac ablation if medications are not helping or are producing serious side effects, high risk of having a cardiac arrest, suspected of having Wolff Parkinson white syndrome, etc.
TYPES OF CARDIAC ABLATION
The types of cardiac ablation include:
Atrial flutter ablation involves the creation of scar tissues within the upper chamber of the heart so that abnormal electrical impulses causing fluttering of the heartbeat at the upper chamber of your heart –atria can stop.
AV node ablation can be seen as a type of cardiac ablation done to restore the normal heartbeat. This procedure involves the use of heat or radiofrequency energy to destroy a small amount of tissue between the upper and lower chambers of your heart. It also involves the implantation of a small device into your heart that could act as a pacemaker.
Cardiac ablation for SVT is also a type of cardiac ablation that uses cold or heat to treat abnormal heart rate that affects the upper chambers of the heart causing erratic heartbeat
- Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) Ablation
Ventricular tachycardia ablation is used to treat electrical signals that cause the lower chamber of the heart to beat faster than it should and restore the heartbeat.
Pulmonary vein isolation is a type of cardiac ablation that uses heat or cold energy to restore the abnormal rhythm of the heart by creating a tiny scar in the left upper chamber of the heart where the four pulmonary veins connect.
Cardiac ablation is mostly recommended by the doctor as a treatment procedure for abnormal heat beat and should be carried out only based on the doctor’s recommendation and if you are suspected of having Wolf Parkinson’s white syndrome, supraventricular tachycardia condition, or a high possibility of having a cardiac arrest.
CARDIAC ABLATION RISKS
Cardiac ablation complications may include:
- Ventricular Tachycardia Ablation
Cardiac ablation side effects long term are rare but possible. You can experience fatigue and shortness of breath after cardiac ablation.
CARDIAC ABLATION PREPARATION
When preparing for cardiac ablation there are certain things you have to consider. Stop eating or drinking for at least 8 hours before the procedure, you should avoid food at least the night before the procedure if the procedure will be in the morning. Your doctor will also guide you on how to go about it.
CARDIAC ABLATION PROCEDURE
Before the Procedure,
Cardiac ablation is a procedure that requires specialization. The procedure is carried out after the administration of sedative anesthesia through your vein in your forearm by inserting it intravenously.
During the Procedure,
During the procedure, a catheter will be inserted into your heart through a blood vessel. This catheter could be more than one and inserted through different locations to your heart.
Then a dye is inserted through the catheter into your blood. This is done in other to obtain a clear image of your blood vessels through imaging techniques such as X-rays, etc.
Then your heart impulses are recorded through the sensor on the tip of the catheter. With this information, the area of the arrhythmia is identified.
After that, either radiofrequency energy or extreme cold-called “cryoablation” is employed to create tiny scars in the heart and block abnormal heart rates.
You might feel slight pain when the catheter is being moved into your heart and energy released, if the pain increases, alert your doctor.
Duration: Cardiac ablation can take three to six hours.
After the Procedure,
You will be moved to the recovery room to recuperate and monitored closely. Cardiac recovery will take some time probably up to some days.
However, depending on your recovery time, you may go home that same day or the next day.
CARDIAC ABLATION RECOVERY RATE
(How long does it take to recover from cardiac ablation?)
Cardiac ablation recovery takes 2 to 3 weeks. You may experience some soreness but it will go within some days and you could return to your normal activity.
Since this has to do with the heart, you must take very good care of yourself. Take time away from activities that can excite and shock you for a while.
Take pain relief drugs as prescribed by your doctor. Avoid strenuous activities or heavy lifting for a week. Eat healthy diets especially fruits that will help you heal faster.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER CARDIAC ABLATION
Your life after cardiac ablation can be normal and the procedure can improve the quality of your life. however, there is a chance of the abnormal beat returning so you may be given medications to help with the treatment.
CARDIAC ABLATION SUCCESS RATE
The success rate of cardiac ablation is said to between 70 to 75% and if the first attempt fails, the success rate at the second trial is set at 90%.
- Bleeding at the inserting of the catheter.
- Infection at the site of inserting a catheter.
- Damage or rupture to blood vessels.
- Heart valve damage.
- Decrease in heart rate.
- Venous thromboembolism or blood clotting at your legs.
- The dye used may cause damage to your kidney.
- Pulmonary vein stenosis is the narrowing of the veins that brings blood to the heart and lungs.
- And in some cases cardiac death.
- How serious is heart ablation surgery?
This procedure has to do with the heart which is a delicate organ. Any mistake can lead to damage of blood vessels, bleeding, and infections that can be life-threatening.
Also, cardiac ablation is a lifesaving procedure and the last resort for arrhythmia.
- What is the success rate of cardiac ablation?
According to research, the success rate of cardiac ablation is about 70 to 75%. The risks of this procedure are minimal once done carefully by the surgeon.
- Do they stop your heart during an ablation?
Cardiac ablation is a non-surgical procedure that uses a catheter to reach into the heart and restore a heartbeat. It does not require stopping the heart to do so.
- When is ablation a last resort?
Cardiac ablation is considered a last resort for patients with severe symptoms of arrhythmia where medications can no longer provide relief.
- When is cardiac ablation needed?
Cardiac ablation is needed when a patient is drug intolerant and can no longer respond to any antiarrhythmic medications.