What is cardiac ablation?
Cardiac ablation is a procedure performed to treat heart arrhythmia — a problem associated with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. Sometimes your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or unevenly. These heart rhythm problems are called arrhythmias.
Arrhythmias is a common problem in old adults and people with heart problems. It is very important to treat it to manage its symptoms and prevent a stroke. The symptoms can vary between individuals. Some of the common symptoms include chest pain, palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Many people can live normal lives with regular medication to normalize the heart’s rhythm. Blood-thinning medications may also be prescribed. Others that don’t respond to medication would need to undergo cardiac ablation to restore a regular rhythm to prevent the heart conditions from worsening.
What is the procedure?
Cardiac ablation is a procedure that uses thin, flexible tubes called catheters to reach into the heart via the groin vessels. The catheters record the heart’s electrical activity to detect the area where the arrhythmia or abnormal heart activity is coming from. Radiofrequency energy or freezing is then used to destroy the abnormal tissue, resulting in a scar. The scar tissue is incapable of initiating the electrical signal causing irregular heartbeats, preventing the electrical signals from travelling to the rest of the heart and causing arrhythmias.
Are there any risks involved?
The immediate result of the procedure can be very good. However, like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved, such as bleeding, pain, and infection at the catheter insertion site. Less common complications may include a heart attack or stroke. Recurrence may also occur in as many as 30% of patients within one year and repeat therapies may be required. Overall, cardiac ablation is considered a safe procedure. However, as there many different forms of cardiac ablation, it is important to discuss your procedure and risks involved with your doctor.