AF Association

How much AF had you had before you had an ablation??

I'd be grateful to hear everyone's experiences- I wasn't able to go to the Birmingham meeting last year and those who have discussed it here seem to say it was thought the earlier one had ablation the better were the results.

I started with a two hour , very vigorous episode of AF last August ( took about 3 months to recover) and have had seven short minor episodes since then and then an eighth episode recently which was, again two hours. The EP I have seen says that as I have vagal AF, Flecanide ( after a heart scan I am to have soon), is the only med that is suitable. I felt confident in her record re ablation and decided to wait until symptons were frequent enough to warrant it. Problem is I don't want to risk structural changes from AF which might make ablation less successful so would really like to hear how much AF people experienced before they decided on ablation??

16 Replies

Hi Rosy, my question would be if you are happy with your EP why wait? AF will always get worse not better and the sooner it is treated the better. Drugs only ever delay the process I am sorry to say from my experience. I had paroxysmal AF for some years before diagnosis in 2005 and was offered ablation almost straight away. Back then with the benefit of ignorance I declined and was told if I changed my mind to let them know. As my AF got more frequent and unpleasant I did and I did. I had my first ablation in 2006 and one a year till 2008 since which I have been AF free.

The bottom line is that there will come a point when you will know that it is right. The problem is not to leave it too long.. As I say, why wait.; I have yet to meet anybody who says they wished they hadn't had their ablation but loads who wished they hadn't delayed so long.



Hi Rosy

I was similar to Bob and didn't have an ablation when it was first offered.

I waited about 3 years then it was so bad I didn't have a choice and my quality of life was terrible.

The chances of success are much greater in the early stages of AF.

I've been lucky and have had 4 months of relative AF free - I say it that way as we all become very aware of any change in beats and missed beats etc.

Most, like Bob and myself, who have had AF for a few years will have to have more than 1 ablation.

My advice is if your EP is offering it go for it and the odds of success first up are a lot higher than if you wait.



I agree with Bob and Brian. My AF is now too frequent and the medication is not working. I really do not want to continue with the prospect of so many off-days. I have dithered about ablation for too long and now have no alternative. I'm just grateful for advances in medical science that make treatment a possibility.


I have never heard or being offered ablation until I joined this site a couple of months ago. Infact I have only seen a specialist once when I was diagnosed. Since I was diagnosed with PAF in 2005 I have about 2 or 3 episode's a year lasting about 30hrs with odd heart beats inbetween. Since 2005 I have also had at least 3 small stroke's which has been blamed on my PAF. Each time I have been left with small disabilities and have now had to stop working. I am starting to feel let down by the NHS


That's terrible but similar to me. I have had it for around 15 years diagnosed for only 3 years after 3 T.I.As . I was never offered medication other than warfarin and even that only after a struggle. I was never sent to a consultant. After reading posts on this forum I paid to see an E.P. wow what a difference. I was given flecanide and bisoprolol which stopped the A.F. and told that if it didn't work I could have an ablation which will be done on N.H.S. I know you shouldn't have to do this but sometimes it's the only way.


Hi I've found it depends on what doctors you see on what best course they think it is to take, I've had regular AF episodes probably for about 2 years without really understanding what it was, got it confirmed last November my episodes could last from anything from a couple of hours to 4 or 5 days, The cardiologist at my local hospital was happy to keep trying me on medication (flecanide and bisoprodol) but after seeing a cardio specialist at a different hospital I was put on the list for ablation operation straight away, just waiting on a date to go in, he seemed to think the earlier I got it done the better as it was starting to affect my personal life i've got 2 children and was struggling to keep up with them sometimes, so hope this helps a little.



Hello rosyG, I first noticed my AF in 2005. I get about one or two episodes a year and each time I take 200mg of Flecainide, this normally takes effect in about one hour. Last year I had six episodes of AF and the flecainide was taking longer to work. I saw the consultant and he recommend I had an Ablation which I had on Saturday. Now I'm just waiting to see how successful the ablation was. Good luck.


Hi Rosy, when first diagnosed, I was put on drugs which took away all symptoms. But eventually, after a couple of years, side-effects started to creep in and they weren't good. So I was offered an ablation (at age 53) to get off the drugs. It worked perfectly and kept me 100% clear for 8 years.

General outlook at the Patients Day was that ablations are better than the drugs, by quite a long shot if I recall correctly.

Good luck with your decision.



I agree with the others posts, don't wait it will only get worse!

I wasn't offered an ablation, even though my GP thought that I was an ideal candidate when I was diagnosed in 2008 although I now know I have had AFib/AFl/ATachy for a lot longer than that. The first significant episode which diasabled me was when I was sailing in the middle of the Atlantic and lasted for about 6 hours, that was 2002-3. next lasted for about 36 hours but I would have a clutch, say 2 x week and then nothing for months or even a year so I kidded myself it wouldn't come back, but it did and became more frequent. Meds kept it at bay mostly but they had side effects and I stopped taking Bisoprolol because it stopped me exercising.

In the end I had an ablation in Nov2013, which wasn't as successful as I had hoped and had the 2nd -5weeks, this time I am feeling so much better.

You are very lucky to be offered an ablation, I had to go privately because it obviously wasn't going to happen for me in this area and my life had shrunk so much it became intolerable for me because I couldn't drive distances, I lost confidence in my ability to be able to last out a whole day without sleeping 3 hours, everything was an effort etc etc.

The recent findings are that the sooner you have ablation on your AFib journey the more likely it is to be successful. Stay well.


in New Zealand I think you have to fail rhythm control before you can go on an ablation list. Having totally failed with four different rhythm control drugs I am now on rate control and have an attack about every 10 days lasting 6 to 12 hours. After failing rhythm control my cardiologist agreed to send me to an EP which happened five months ago. I got a call from the EPs nurse this morning and have a date for my ablation. I'm nervous as hell about having the operation, but no way am I not going to. If I knew at the start what I know now I would have pushed for the operation immediately and hopefully avoided many many trips to hospital and ED.

AF affects everybody differently and you have to make up your own mind based on your personal circumstances, but personally I would go for it.


Thank you for letting me know what happened to you- it really is helpful and, whilst we all have different aspects of AF, it does seem as if outcomes become very similar.

I will wait for a reply from the EP but feel , given your advice everyone, it will be best to go early rather than too late!


Hi, rosyG,

I was offered an ablation a few months ago after having several episodes of AF none of which lasted for more than an hour. I would not say my "quality of life" was affected. Since being prescribed 2.5 mg of bisopolol daily I only have short bursts of AF which are not at all disabling. I have no idea why I should have been selected - maybe the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham is doing research on early ablation? I'm going ahead with the procedure but am still worried about whether I should do this.:everyone who takes part in this forum suffers a great deal worse from AF than I do.If you were in the QE catchment area I'm sure you would be encouraged to have an ablation now.


thank you for this swatson.

Only just seen your reply- I think we are being offered ablation because they seem to do it earlier now- do you have a date for yours yet?

Please let me know how you get on- best wishes



Thanks for your response, rosyG. My ablation is set for the end of July. My hesitation is just caused by the possibly bad consequences: stroke or death.


I hope you get on well Swatson,- I think it's very difficult to decide when our symptoms are not nearly as severe as others on the site.

A stroke consultant told me this week that 'Those with hammers look for nails!' and I think it's hard for us as patients to make a really informed choice.

I think those who say have ablation early think there is less change to the heart muscle- fibrosis- at that point, but others know that with age, hypertension etc- there have been a lot of change already. A Utah study is actually doing MRI scans before ablation to see if there is a lot of fibrosis, which in turn mean ablation was less likely to work well-I don't think we are all offered this in the UK yet but it might be in the future???

I will wait for my appointment with EP and results, in June, and then decide, but at present think I wll wait until symptoms are more severe- as long as they will keep the ablation offer open!


I had my first AF in 2004 then second one 2005 then nothing for 10 years...then the recent one last April and was offered ablation booked for around September...


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