People who suffer from atrial fibrillation (Afib) have an irregular heartbeat. Fortunately, this problem can be effectively treated with an invasive procedure called a cardiac ablation. Doctors are able to restore the heartbeat’s regular rhythm by either freezing or causing small burns to the abnormal electrical signals in the heart.
What Happens During Atrial Fibrillation Ablation?
Thin, hollow tubes are inserted via the groin and reach all the way up to your heart. These tubes, also known as catheters, will make small freezes or small burns. This scars the heart, which prevents abnormal electrical signals from occurring. As long as the electrical signals stay normal, Afib won’t happen.
What Are the Signs of Atrial Fibrillation?
Unlike a normal heart, Afib can make your heartbeat very rapidly, often in excess of 120 beats per minute. To give you some perspective, a normal heart rate is 60-100 times every minute. The symptoms of Afib may include:
- Shortness of Breath
Over time, Afib may lead to serious issues such as a stroke, heart failure or blood clots.
What Are the Types of Afib?
There are three different types of Afib that a person can become afflicted with. These include:
- Persistent Afib – This type lasts for more than a week, and you may need cardioversion
- Paroxysmal Afib – Your heart will occasionally race, but it’ll stop on its own within a week
- Long-Standing Persistent Afib – This is a persistent type of Afib that lasts for more than a year
Depending on the type of Afib you have, cardioversion may become necessary. This involves a high-energy shock given to the heart in an attempt to restore normal functionality.
What Are the Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation?
There are certain characteristics that may make you more likely to suffer from Afib.
- Alcohol Use
- Being Over 50
- High Stress Levels
- Heart Failure
- High Blood Pressure
- Being Male
- Sleep Apnea
- Thyroid Disease
- Being Tall
What Happens During an Ablation?
The ablation procedure will last approximately two to four hours. To begin, your doctor will give you a local anesthetic to your groin, as well as place you under a general anesthetic. Your groin’s blood vessel will have several electrical catheters put through it. These catheters will be advanced into your heart.
Once the correct area of the heart is found, your doctor will burn or freeze the area. The resulting scar is intended to disrupt the abnormal symptoms. After the procedure, you’ll need to stay lying down for the night and can’t drive for 48 hours.
Getting an Ablation
The skilled team at Virginia Arrhythmia Consultants can help! Contact us to learn more about ablations.