Ablation Experience

I have been reading this forum for a few years, contributing occasionally (when I thought that it may be helpful) so I thought it time that I made a more significant contribution. I have had PAF for more than twenty years, originally with just one or two episodes a year, but gradually increasing in frequency, each episode lasting from seven to twenty-four hours. I am now 69 years old, and ended up taking Flecainide (2x100mg) and Sotalol (2x80mg). In addition, I had recently given up alcohol (only modest anyway) together with wheat and coffee, as potential triggers. I have also been taking magnesium, transdermally and orally, together with COQ10. The magnesium did seem to quieten episodes down. It became apparent, however, that I was losing the battle and the PAF would soon become persistent, so although the episodes were not disabling, I felt that I had to act. I arranged to see Professor Schilling at London Bridge Hospital, and although he was careful not to recommend ablation, it was perfectly obvious that I should go ahead. Incidentally, he changed my medication from Sotalol to Bisoprolol, and I finally found out why Sotalol is an issue when used in combination with Flecainide. Apparently each drug carries a very small risk of pro-arrhythmia which is can be fatal, but when used together this risk is more than doubled.

The suggested cryo-ablation of the pulmonary veins was carried out in the early evening, followed by an overnight stay. I have seen the procedure described as no worse than a trip to the dentist. Well, at the time this did not seem to be the case, although a couple of days later it is rapidly appearing less daunting. All the team at the hospital and in the CathLab were charming, kind and helpful. A lovely cardiac nurse came down to the CathLab with me, to keep me calm until I went in. Very scary, to go into the CathLab. I counted eleven, possibly twelve, people in the room full of high tech equipment. The ablation itself was carried out under a light general anaesthetic. The anaesthetist was superb - no after effects whatsoever, and, even better, no memories of feeling of anything, including the TOE, which I had been dreading. Prof. Schilling said that the ablation had gone well, and I was removed to my room for the four hours of lying prone. Unfortunately, I had what seemed to me to be a massive bleed when the clamp in the groin was removed, and I was got out of bed at about midnight. This bleed was heroically stopped by the night nurse applying considerable pressure with her fingers, but it means another seven or eight hours lying prone. I was really fed up with the view of the ceiling! I was discharged mid-morning, and advised by the very capable arrhythmia nurse to stop taking flecainide altogether, except as PIP, to halve the Bisoprolol, advised that I should not worry about any arrhythmias during the first three months, and to contact her in the event of any problems. I have since had a further episode of about six hours which terminated with the help of the PIP, and am hoping that I am one of the 80% in whom a first ablation is successful. If necessary, I would be quite happy to go in for a second ablation, but am obviously hoping that I don't have to.

Overall, though, my treatment has been wonderful, and I hope that, despite the length of this post, it will be helpful to those facing up to the idea of ablation. If anyone has any detailed queries, then I am happy to help.

Regards to all,


13 Replies

  • A full and interesting description, Peter - many thanks. I would agree with you particularly about the quality of care. I found from reception onwards that everyone was very competent and exceptionally caring and dedicated.

    I do hope that you'll have a smooth ride onwards from now and that you're saying goodbye to AF.

  • Thank you. I was really impressed with the dedication and skill throughout.

  • Your post is wonderfully helpful. Thank you for going into so much detail.

    I hope that you will take the advice of those of us who have had ablations. You must now rest and take it easy for up to 3 months to allow your heart to heal from the pounding that it has received.

    Very best wishes.

  • Thank you and although I know that I should take it easy a reminder reinforces the point. The bleed was scary and I don't want another.

  • Pleased all went well for you.

    As the others have said do take it very easy certainly for the few first weeks.

    I think getting some AF after the ablation is quite common and due to the proceedure itself and the time for the healing to take place. I had a couple of episodes in the first two to three week and nothing since (except ectopics).

    Hopefully its goodbye to AF for the long term.

  • Good and positive news is always welcome here. Now rest plenty..

  • Thanks Peter, very useful summary - run off and in my 'ablation' folder. Prof Schilling has been recommended before. Hope all goes well!

  • Thank you for sharing. Hope all continues to go well.

  • Thank you very reassuring chris

  • Thanks so much for this long explanation of your experience with ablation......and it is also very encouraging to hear how kind people are in hospitals.I had a very bad bleed after a hole in the heart was closed and I recall a big strong doctor leaning on me so hard i thought my bones would crack but the heavy pressure did the job.

  • Thanks Peter for your post, I am due for my 1st ablation on 24th September and to say I am scared is an understatement. It's quite reassuring to read your post although being in persistent AF my prognosis is just 50/50. I keep thinking maybe I can carry on the way I am then have a bad day and realise I need to do something about it. Keep well.


  • I simply can't express how apprehensive I felt prior. You will be in good hands and I am sure that it will all be so much easier than you fear. On the question of the chances of success, you are always going to be quoted the least good. But, even at 50% that still leaves a very good chance of walking away free of the AF burden.

    Hope all goes well,


  • Thanks Peter :-)

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