Atrial Fibrillation

I have had 4 episodes of fast AF in the last 20 months each required cardio version using intravenous fleicanide to good effect. My last episodes were 3 weeks ago and 5 weeks ago ie 2 in the space of 2 weeks. Since then my AF has been particularly bad every day most of the day but not fast. I used to have months in between episodes were I felt very well but now I feel dreadful all the time and am now breathless also which I wasn't before my last cardioversion. Since my last cardio version I have been prescribed 7.5mgs bisoprolol instead of sotolol. I am also on 10mgs olmesartan and 5mgs amlodopine for raised BP. I am awaiting an appointment with a specialist cardiologist to discuss ablation. The thought of this procedure really scares me and I am hearing that it is not always effective. I am usually fit and active but this has really interfered with my lifestyle. Any advice for me would be very gratefully accepted. Anyone who has had an ablation I would really value your opinion on the procedure itself and how effective it was. Thank you

16 Replies

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  • Hi Sharon, and welcome even if I poached you from the other forum :)

    I've never had an ablation so I will leave that to others to answer, but I will answer some of the other points if I may

    Firstly and most imortantly you did not mention your age or if you were on an anti-coagulant, the real danger of AF is stroke, and you need to have a CHADS2VACS score done (google it) and if you are 2 or above you MUST be on an anti-coagulant. They will want you on pre-ablation almost certainly in any case.

    Sotolol is no longer prescribed for AF, so the Bisoprolol is the usual drug it controls your heart rate and to a smaller extent the rhythm of the heart.

    Specialist cardiologist? I hope you mean an electro phsyiologist usually referred to by many as an EP, they are the specialits in this field, and you need to be in front of one.

    Now do try not to worry, however bad you feel when you have an AF episode, it's very unlikely to be fatal, although as one doctor says it certianly feels that way at the time. There are many many people suffering from AF the most common arrythmia, and we have all learnt how to get on with our lifes.

    Go to the AFA website, it's a huge database of information for you and you need it knowledge is power and will make you feel calmer.

    I am sure others will post but

    Be well

    Ian

  • Sharon

    I'm sorry you feel so unwell.

    My fast AF episodes escalated coming round more often and lasting longer. The drugs made me feel bad, breathless and tired, sometimes putting me into a flutter for days/weeks at a time. The beta blockers Sotalol and Bisoprolol made my resting heart rate dangerously low.

    I was terrified when my cardiologist first described an ablation to me, yet now I am now looking forward to having one in a few week time. They have a good success rate (80%) and the people on this site that have had them give me confidence.

    I'm fed up of feeling ill and an ablation seems the best way to regain a good quality of life.

    I wish you well making your decision and hope you are feeling better soon.

    Take care.

    Jo

  • Thanks for that Jo it gives me some hope.

  • Hi Sharon and welcome. Firstly ablation is not as bad a root canal treatment at the dentist., I have been saying this for years and each new ablatee has had to agree with me. I had three before they finally got the little buggers who were playing up in there but that was six or so years ago and results seem to have got better. You should look at it as an on going treatment as you may need a second or even third procedure but once you have had one the rest are easy peasy. You should also understand that it will take at least three months for the heart to recover and form the scar tissue which stops the rogue impulses so you will have some odd arrhythmias during that period. Few EPs fully explain the recover period and many patients are disappointed and think it hasn't worked when they find they are still getting odd blips. Be patient and do take plenty of time to recover. Two weeks minimum and then a month or two of light duties. Go at it too hard and you will not help yourself.

    Take note of what Ian has said about anticoagulation and reading about all the aspects of the condition on the main AFA website. I would also say that it is important to accept that you have AF and you are what you are now. It is possible, even probable that you may regain some fitness post ablation but you will never be the same as you were after the experience. I'm not being negative here, quite the opposite as I feel that one of the first things on the road to recovery is understanding these things. Live for what you are now and not a memory. AF may be in your life but don't let it be all of your life is another good mantra.

    You are amongst friends here as we have all been there and some of us have half a dozen T shirts.

    Bob

  • Thanks Bob for your wise words.

  • Hi Sharon and welcome. Firstly ablation is not as bad a root canal treatment at the dentist., I have been saying this for years and each new ablatee has had to agree with me. I had three before they finally got the little buggers who were playing up in there but that was six or so years ago and results seem to have got better. You should look at it as an on going treatment as you may need a second or even third procedure but once you have had one the rest are easy peasy. You should also understand that it will take at least three months for the heart to recover and form the scar tissue which stops the rogue impulses so you will have some odd arrhythmias during that period. Few EPs fully explain the recover period and many patients are disappointed and think it hasn't worked when they find they are still getting odd blips. Be patient and do take plenty of time to recover. Two weeks minimum and then a month or two of light duties. Go at it too hard and you will not help yourself.

    Take note of what Ian has said about anticoagulation and reading about all the aspects of the condition on the main AFA website. I would also say that it is important to accept that you have AF and you are what you are now. It is possible, even probable that you may regain some fitness post ablation but you will never be the same as you were after the experience. I'm not being negative here, quite the opposite as I feel that one of the first things on the road to recovery is understanding these things. Live for what you are now and not a memory. AF may be in your life but don't let it be all of your life is another good mantra.

    You are amongst friends here as we have all been there and some of us have half a dozen T shirts.

    Bob

  • Hi Sharon. What are you fearful about specifically about having an ablation? It doesn't hurt, it's not unpleasant, it's a very successful procedure in most cases. Yes, they stick wires into your heart and burn bits away, but really, it's not painful. At least I don't remember any of it being any form of minor agony, except the insertion of the cannula in the arm which was no worse than having blood taken. I didn't notice the punctures in the leg. You do have to lie flat afterwards for a while, but it's all OK. I found the technical wizardry looked as if it would be fascinating, but suddenly it was all over and I was a bit sad I'd missed it. I would have no hesitation in opting for another should it be needed. My heart hasn't been perfect since, but I am off flecainide which I took for years, and that's a big step forward. I feel I'm every bit as fit as I was before - nothing very special but I walk about 4 brisk miles most days.

  • Thank you for the information. I think my cardiologist frightened me when he told me the procedure was very uncomfortable and sometimes painful it is not done under general anaesthetic were I live. I think it's the thought of something being burnt in my heart while I'm awake that I find scary.

  • Sharon, I see that your location is UK. Could you seek a referal to a hospital where ablation is done with a general anaesthetic? My EP chose this for me because an anaesthetist would be looking after me whilst he concentrated on my heart. Those were his exact words. Telling you that it is uncomfortable is frightening and rather unfair. The worst part of my ablation was the journey to the hospital.

  • The only uncomfortable bit might be lying flat afterwards, particularly if the vein leaks slightly. I was quite pleased to sit up after a while, but it wasn't unbearable at all. The sedation I've had has been total and absolutely painless. I remember nothing - but as Jennydog says, you might opt for an anaesthetic. It takes longer to recover from though.

    Bob says it's not as bad as going to the dentist and I agree.

  • I've gotta say I disagree with the statement ablation isn't painful. That is what I was told and it was total rubbish. Don't want to be negative but it's best to know what is going to happen during an ablation, much less stressful I think.

    Yes I was given IV meds-- sedation and analgesic but not sufficient to help the considerable pain during my cryo ablation. Lying on my back for 6 hrs (2 during ablation and 4 recovery ) was also very difficult. I have had back surgery and have nerve damage but I don't think anyone can lie flat on their back for that length of time without

    pain.

    Finally make sure someone is there, family member friend to help with giving you fluids and support.

    Hope this helps I did complain to my EP and now in AF again so for my next ablation plan to have a general anesthetic.

  • Hi Sharon, I had an ablation 6 weeks ago and since then have not felt my heart once. I had no pain during, and after, the ablation.

    Several weeks ago a friend had a heart attack in our town centre. Within 2 hours a stent had been fitted into her blocked vein via her WRIST. This set me wondering - ablation would be far less frightening, especially for women, if it could be done via the wrist rather than the groin. Obviously it's not possible but they do give you paper knickers and they will definitely have seen it all before!

    Your history is very similar to mine. I got to the stage when the uncertainty of feeling so rotten so often meant that my life had ground to a halt. Treat ablation as an opportunity. You will regret it if you don't go ahead. If it doesn't work then at least you will have the satisfaction that you gave it your best shot.

    Very best wishes.

  • Thank you for your reply you do give me more confidence to go ahead with the procedure.

  • Hi Sharon, I had an ablation 6 weeks ago and since then have not felt my heart once. I had no pain during, and after, the ablation.

    Several weeks ago a friend had a heart attack in our town centre. Within 2 hours a stent had been fitted into her blocked vein via her WRIST. This set me wondering - ablation would be far less frightening, especially for women, if it could be done via the wrist rather than the groin. Obviously it's not possible but they do give you paper knickers and they will definitely have seen it all before!

    Your history is very similar to mine. I got to the stage when the uncertainty of feeling so rotten so often meant that my life had ground to a halt. Treat ablation as an opportunity. You will regret it if you don't go ahead. If it doesn't work then at least you will have the satisfaction that you gave it your best shot.

    Very best wishes.

  • Hi Sharon

    As a long time sufferer of Atrial fib,

    I can only share my experiences.

    I used to take amioderone, for many years , and it kept my A/F under control,

    But also had some unpleasant side effects, unknown to me antil the damage was done, ie had to start on thyroxine for thyroid, and affected other effects I won't go into,

    I finally got an ablation inn2013, after many trips to A/&E..

    Was ok for about 3 months, but they came back, , was put in a beta blocker and Warfarin, which I am still on, after nearly two years,

    I was finally accepted for another ablation this coming March,.

    In the QE hospital ..

    Though I am still waiting for a date.. I'm in the UK, things do not move quickly

    My first ablation took about 4 hours, in the cash lab, you are in as a day patient

    The procedure, is not unpleasantl , just a light sedation.

    The only I didn't like was the cold in the Cathy lab lol

    But sometimes the first one does not always work, so a second is required

    As I sit here writing this, I am in A/F now, truly a life on hold

    I hope this answers you're questions, if not ask away..

    Again

    Good luck to you, Sharon.

  • I take metoprolol and amiodarone 200 milligrams together they seem to help my A-fib. I wish I could have a couple of beers however am too scared. I would have imagined it would affect my medications

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