ablation or no ablation, that is the question

Good morning everyone. I am a newcomer to this site which I find hugely helpful and I am so impressed with all the knowledge here and would just like to get an opinion please

I am 75, female, always had an active life with exercise being part of it. I had my first AF last July. Settled with two cardioversions but now have paroxysmal AF which is dominating my life. I am on sotolol, Digoxin and Riveroxaban after bad experiences with flecainide and amiodarone, Have just had a bad couple of weeks with last weekend in hospital under observation after ectopic beats which I had not had before and which were very scary.

Sorry this is getting a little long winded

My question is - Do I investigate ablation as a hopeful way to get my life back. My cardiologist brushes over it as an option as it has risks but I don't know if that is the doctor versus the surgeon

Opinions please

Best wishes to all Penny

11 Replies

  • Hi Penny, sorry to hear you are having such an awful time. I too felt like you that I wanted to get my life back and have the ablation, but after looking into it, despite many members of the forum being for ablation, I have decided against it. It is such a personal thing and looking at various posts on this forum it depends on who you see and where you live. If they can get your medication to control all these attacks and ectopic beats there is no reason why you cannot have your life back. Hope that helps and good luck, I know just how you feel. Wendy.

  • I am having my thrid Ablation this thursday You can take from that what you will. Every year tey are getting better and new things and drugs are being found. Stress of the condition is not helping try and distract away from your AF with activities that do not bring it on.

    Be Well

  • Offcut, Will keep you in my thoughts for your procedure on Thursday. So far I have been really blessed because it looks like the first time may have done it. But if AF shows its ugly face again I would have no hesitation to do it again. After 2 ablations you are used to this but if the nerves start twitching don't hesitate jumping on here to blow off some steam. And let us know how it went after Thursday...


  • Hi Penny,

    As Wendy stated... It is an individual choice. There is a wealth of information on the web about the procedure. The main AFA Site has a good PDF file on it.


    Also they have articles of the many different ways to treat AF. You can also get a bunch of info from stopafib.org.

    I know many who have had it done well into their 70's. I am 58 and for me it was an easy procedure. I just laid down, went to sleep and when I woke up about 5 hours later it was over. I had a few small, mild attacks in the first 3 weeks after but now have went over 10 weeks without an attack or even a skipped beat. For me it was the best choice I have made. After over 13 years of AF I finally feel like I have my life back.

    There are also other meds that you can try if you decide against the ablation. Propafanone (Rythmol) is the one that helped me the most. It's a little strange that your Dr has you on both sotalol and Digoxin as they both do basically the same thing. But there may be a reason for it.

    I'm actually glad you had the bad reaction to Amiodarone. That drug carries some really bad side effects and normally is only given after everything else has been tried. It is somewhat safe for very short term use.

    Check out the sites. They will give you the facts you need to make the right decision for yourself.

    Keep in touch and ask any other questions you might have.


  • Thank you so much Tim. In fact this morning, in light of the brilliant information from you and everyone on the forum and a book I obtained 'Beat your A-Fib' I have decided to ask my consultant to refer me to Dr O'Neill Guys & St Thomas who has been mentioned by other forum members At 75 I truly don't want to feel like I do for the next however many years, too much to do. Am not seeking years, just quality

    I am really interested in your experiences post op and pray all stays well and AF can fade to but a bad distant memory

  • Penny,

    That is a very helpful book written in easy to understand language. I have talked to Steve many times and he did a great job with the book.

    I have a bit harder time than most post op because my INR was higher than they wanted for the procedure. But it was still nothing over all. They insert these little "sleeves" to pass the wires into your veins and normally they remove them while you are still under but due to my INR they waited for my blood to thicken a bit before removing them. I guess that thinking about them taking them out was a whole lot worse that when they actually did it. I was in the hospital over night and as usual didn't get much sleep. Really the worse part to the whole thing was having to just lay there on my back for the day. I was up and moving the next morning and released from the hospital that same morning. I basically had no pain at all and needed no pain killers, except for a sore back from laying there. They sent me home with instructions to take it easy and not lift anything over 10 lbs for a week. Also don't take a bath for 3 days and if you shower don't get the insertion points real wet. I was noticeably tired for a few weeks after but that faded away.

    I knew in the second week that the ablation had done something because I had an attack (which my EP said would probably happen). My normal attacks were severe with a pulse of 175 to 185BPM and my blood pressure bottoming out with cramps, headaches, shakes and other symptoms lasting about 8 hours.

    But with this attack I almost didn't know it was happening. If not for my blood pressure monitor, I would not have been sure I was having an attack. My pulse only climbed to about 110BPM and my blood pressure was normal and I had no other symptoms. It lasted about 45 minutes. In 13 years I had never had an attack this mild and lasting so short a time. The next 2 attacks (in the next week) were the same. And start with the 4th week I had no attacks and have had none since.

    The Dr will tell you that it can take from 3 to 6 months to feel the full effect of the procedure and you may have attacks during that time.

    There are others on here who have went through the same procedure in the last 6 months and maybe they will jump in and give you their story.

    I hope that this helps and please ask if you have any other questions about this or any other things about AF.

    You have the right attitude going forward. As SRMGrandma would tell you, taking an active positive attitude will make your life better. Don't accept "just live with it".


  • Hi Tim I wonder if you have any feelings of who to choose between Dr O'Neill (who spent 15 months with Prof Haissaguerre in Bordeaux) and Prof Schilllinger who carries out procedures at the London Bridge Hospial.

    Sorry Tim, I don't even know where you live Best wishes Penny

  • Thank you so much Tim. You have really had a bad time, in comparison I have nothing to complain about but I am determined to get as well as I can now. I had reached the 'Oh I'll just live with it' stage but after a really scary attack a week or so ago decided this was no way forward. My cardiologist has never spent time with me about ablation and I feel would never recommend it. However, the facts I have gleaned from you and others have made me determined to actually take my life into my own hands.

    Life on drugs is unacceptable.

    Take care


  • Hi Penny and Rupert

    Ectopic beats are normal, everyone gets them but not everyone is aware of them. Unfortunately after AF we seem to be aware of every change in heart beat, so we are very aware.

    Good luck


  • Amen to that.Eileen.we get so sensitive to our poor old tickers that anything it does we know about!


  • Good point Eileen,

    Because of our condition we seem to be really aware of any change in our normal heart rhythm. I notice every skipped beat and then wait for AF to start. I guess most wouldn't even have noticed it.


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