Problems after catheter ablation: in late... - AF Association

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Problems after catheter ablation


in late 2011 I suspected I may have persistent AF. I had suddenly become fatigued climbing stairs and even got tired during the warm up for a game of tennis.This was confirmed by a consultant and I was started on Warfarin. A cardioversion was performed July 2012, my rhythm returned to normal and I felt better. However a week later I was back in AF. At that time I had refused to take Amioderone as I was unhappy about the possible side effects. For some time I decided to live with the AF as I was a bit scared of going down the ablation route. Late October 2013 after my tiredness worsened I had an ablation which although the EP claimed had cured the problem I could feel my pulse was still irregular. Three months later, all agreed that I was still in AF.

A further ablation was arranged for February 2014 which went terribly wrong. I was still in AF but suffered massive bruising and swelling in my right leg and was left more breathless than ever, Over the next few days I had numerous tests to figure out why I was so breathless, the main theory being that I had suffered a Pulmonary Embolism that had since dissipated leaving no trace.

I have since had many tests and scans, my heart is apparently fine as are my lungs but the breathlessness is awesome. I am left gasping for air after climbing the 13 steps to my bedroom.

under a new EP I was advised to start taking Amioderone and recently had a further cardioversion which with the help of the Amioderone was successful having been back in normal rhythm the last ten days. So far after two months on 200mg / day I've had no side effects. I am still severely incapacitated by the breathlessness which would seem to imply that it has nothing to do with the AF but was somehow brought on by my second ablation.

I wonder if anyone has had a similar experience which was eventually cured as at the moment my life is on hold.

Sorry to be so long winded but it's difficult to shorten.

22 Replies

Hello Rex

I have not suffered anything like yourself, but interested in your post.

I am a month post ablation, and I have been left more breathless than previously and also discomfort after eating, I have been told nothing is wrong as symptons will ease, I now wonder considering your extended problems.


Just a thought here that it may be due to stenosis of the pulmonary veins following ablation. If they react badly and close up then it can cause symptoms rather like pneumonia I understand but this shouldn't last forever. I recall that about a month to six weeks after each of my ablations I went through a period of about three months when I was very wheezy. Could be talking out of my ---- but a thought.


I don't know if my experience would be helpful or not. During my 2nd ablation, the first made me worse, several things went wrong due to technical failures and the EP stopped the ablation before he thought he had finished. It was a successful ablation and no more AF but my fatigue increased, as did my breathlessness. 3 months after the ablation I was diagnosed with a quite rare autoimmune disease called Myasthenia gravis which I had probably had for many years but the ablation procedure exacerbated increasing symptoms, the main one being extreme muscle fatigue, which also affected the diaphragm, hence the breathing problems. I was not diagnosed until I had sudden onset ptosis (I couldn't open my eyelids), double vision and inability to walk without aid.

I am not saying that you have Mg, most unlikely, just that there could be a underlying, undiagnosed chronic condition which may be causing your breathlessness. Since being treated for the Mg AND sleep apnea I am staring to get some energy back, I am socializing more and starting to exercise. I will never be as I was 4 years ago, but 100% better than I was 1 year ago, just after the ablation.

Thanks for that Cdreamer, I will check out Mg as anything is worth a look. However I am sceptical of this one as my problems started after the second ablation and I would think if there were underlying issues as you describe they would have surfaced after the first ablation but who knows?

It is very unlikely to be Mg as it is very rare and I also had no problems recovering from my first ablation. I just didn't recover very well at all from the second, although there was no AF so I couldn't understand what was going on until the other symptoms appeared and I was diagnosed. Mg is an autoimmune disease which can be in your system but symptoms are dormant, surgical procedures can exacerbate symptoms as can a virus or an infection. All I was saying is that one disease may mask symptoms of another, breathlessness and fatigue are symptomatic in so many other diseases other than AF.

What I was getting at is that there may very well be another underlying condition, as yet undiagnosed, which is causing your breathlessness.

in reply to CDreamer

I am due to have an ablation a week on Wednesday and am somewhat alarmed about your experience. Which hospital did you attend?

in reply to maxim314

Please, please do not be alarmed! The ablation itself worked and I am so, so much better than I was, 1 year after my 2nd ablation - NO AF!

I went privately in London and had every confidence in the staff, unfortunately equipment fails sometimes and it was unfortunate that was the case in my situation. I received excellent care and have no hesitation recommending my EP who was trained by Prof Schilling and is a consultant at Barts.

The ablation did not CAUSE the Mg, it was probably in my system for many, many years. The ablation probably exacerbated the condition but so does heat, cold, any virus or infection.

Please read my reply in context.

Best wishes for your ablation, as Bob says it really is much easier than we imagine, less stressful than going to the dentist. Let us know how you get on.

Do not be afraid, I'm sure that my experience was rare.

The Hospital was Bristol Spire who I have great confidence in

Hi,please don't be nervous, although I know thats easier said than done.I had my laser balloon ablation on the 5th of this month and I'd do it again tomorrow if I had to.You do get little niggles but nothing major.I had mine done at Blackpool Victoria I can't speak highly enough of Dr Scott Gall and his team. Good luck I'm sure you'll be fine ☺

Looks like another visit to the GP for me then. Back to work tomorrow atter ablation (17th FEb) but I am still getting pains/discomfort in my stomach mainly after eating, this only becam e apparent last weekend along with the breathlessness.

EP arranged another chest X-ray midweek, nothing showing as I expected.

Seem arrhythmia nusrse who stated symptons would ease, but no explanation what it could it bem and admitted was surprised it came on nearly three weeks after the ablation.

See from other posts, there could be some underlying problem that probably needs investigating,

Plus side AF Seems good, shame this stomach issues has come about.

in reply to MickN

It is very common to have esophageal and stomach discomfort for months after an ablation so don't jump to conclusions, give it time to settle. In my case I learned at a later date that the cause was the TOE which gave me a very sore throat, acid reflux and stomach pains for about 12 weeks after both ablations, but nobody warned me either!

The Mg caused entirely different symptoms.

in reply to CDreamer

Thanks for the update

Regards the TOE I never had that.

What is MG

in reply to MickN

TOE = trans esophageal echocardiogram. I would surprised if you had an ablation without, although you wouldn't remember it at all as it is a part of the procedure where they put a small camera down your esophagus to check that there are no clots in the atria before they go into the atria as to do so with a clot in there would be to risk moving it. Did you have a scan instead?

Mg = myasthenia gravis which is an autoimmune disease where the immune system is overactive and produces antibodies which attack a part of the body, in Mg - Acetycholine which is a neurotransmitter essential for firing muscles, literally the name means grave muscle weakness. There are hundreds of autoimmune diseases, arthritis is probably the best known but MS comes into this category. Autoimmune diseases are often triggered by an invasion of the body such as virus, infection or medical procedure.

I am glad to hear I am not the only one with esophageal and stomach pain after surgery. It got really bad about 6 weeks post surgery. I had been feeling good and thought I was likely out of the woods until one night I felt a searing pain and "movement" in my esophagus and could not take a deep breath for 2 days due to that pain and pain under my left rib. It seems to come and go so I am sure it is gastrointestinal. It is getting better but still I do have some daily pain in those areas. Doctors don't seem concerned so I am trying not to be either. Hoping it goes away with time. My EP said my heart may still be swollen for another month and that can cause some pain in the left chest wall too.

hi rex

i know amioderone is called the devils drug but i was on it for 13 weeks after my ablation and had no side effects,like you i did not want to take it but was told it will help the healing you do what you do to try and get back in rhthm

I had a successful ablation 6 months ago, but it affected my Vagus nerve which passes close by and controls the stomach and digestive system amongst other things. The EP said it should be transient and it is getting better very slowly. It comes and goes. I did a bit of self help by eating much smaller portions, the bonus being I have lost tons of weight and I feel fantastic with bags of energy. Just shows we eat far too much for our own good.

Sounds good, but I can ill afford to lose weight, I am already at my lowest weight for many years, struggling to get back to 12 stone as already lost weight due to eating habits to help with my AF pre ablation.

How long did the symptoms last Tbag?

I would advise you to try to find an alternative to Amiodarone. My specialist put me on it as it was the only thing that worked for me but on the proviso that I would only be on it for a couple of months, this turned into 12 with a break of 1 month in between. The Ablation was the only alternative as beta blockers had not worked for me. I now take 1.25mg of Bisoprolol and I am not sorry to be off of the Amiodarone.

Yes, I am aware that the Amioderone has many side effects, none of which I have yet encountered, but I have only been on it for about two months. I'm seeing my specialist next week and will see what he recommends

I'm having a hard time breathing and shaking all the time

I had an EP study/ablation performed for atrial tachycardia...9 days ago and they claim it was successful. I had extreme worsening pain in my groin area and decided to email the surgeon 4 days post surgery. I thought I was just recovering from surgery and kept telling myself to suck it up. I’m a healthy 26 year old, never any medical issues except my heart. Anyways, surgeon ordered an emergency ultrasound and they found a massive blood clot in my groin. Went to ER, now on injections of blood thinners. 3 days ago I felt worse, lots of pain and pain in my heart area. I again thought it was due to recovering from surgery. I told the doctor I was a little winded when I talked and walked and about the pain. She ordered a CT scan and they found a pulmonary embolism in my left lung. Needless to say, life is extremely rough right now. The surgeon says he has never had this happen and apparently risk of this happening is <1%. I think people need to be more informed of the potential complications, although I would have still followed through with ablation. They said my clot in my lungs would take months to go away and I may be breathless for months as well so I think what you’re experiencing may be normal if you had a clot in your lungs.

rexgascoyne just saw the post. I had a 2nd cardio ablation this past Monday. I woke up with extreme pain in my leg arm(i think from the blood pressure cuff) and it sent me right back into afib. Had cardio version the next morning (twice) and now am in sinus rhythm. However I have terrible breathlessness like you described. What finally did they diagnose for you? I wheeze when I lay on my back and can't even walk to my bathroom without being out of breathe. It's horrible.

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