Ablation fears

Hi I'm newbie, I've had AF for 6yrs now I had a cardioversion 2 yrs ago and was well until 2 months ago when I went back into AF amd since then I've been in and out of AF, im on the waiting list for the ablation and was happy about having it done that was until my mum who's been ill for a while ended up having an ablation on Tues, she said it was the worst thing she's ever been through and now I'm petrified about having it done, just wondered how it was for everyone else x

46 Replies

  • Well I have had one under sedation and it took 6.5 hours. As my EP predicted I went back into persistent AF and when I saw him he said did I want to go on the waiting list for a second ablation and I had absolutely no hesitation at all in saying yes.

    Your mum must do nothing for the next two weeks to give her heart some time to recover

  • Put ablation in the search in the corner of the page and you will see many positive stories. I have had two and would not hesitate on a third if necessary. Although like everyone else I get anxious, it is a straight forward procedure and you will be discharged the next day. I have had very little discomfort. But if your CV lasted that long is it not worth giving that another go as it's far less intrusive.

  • I put off having the ablation and the AF got steadily worse over a 5 year period. There was eventually no choice in the matter as my QoL was abysmal. Since the ablation I have been AF free for over a year. My main regret is not going for it when the opportunity arose early in my AF journey.

  • Putting off your first ablation for 5 years or second one? How have you been since getting ablation either one or two?

  • Just the one ablation so far! Had it done in Jan 2015 and had two AF episodes within the first 6 months but nothing since. Still get ectopic runs now and again but that's it!

  • I had one in Nov 2013 and it was a breeze. I was very anxious before I had it but I had a general an anesthetic and had no complications. It took about 5 months for the various arrhythmias to go away but I have been clear of AF since. This means no drugs except anticoagulant and a normal life.

    i think if you read more stories on here most people have had very positive things to say. There are some where it was not positive but this is true of all procedures and operations. There are always risks but one has to balance them. I know its not an easy decision so I wish you all the best making it. 🍀

  • You're in a strange environment. You've had nothing to eat or drink for ages. You're undressed and they're poking around 'down there'. It's uncomfortable, yes even a little painful at the beginning if the sedation levels are not quite right. And it seems to take forever....

    Your Mum's right, it isn't pleasant but surely not the worst thing she's been through? Has she forgotten what it was like when you 'popped out' all those years ago Gingerfurball! Now that was unpleasant!!

    Seriously, you're much younger than your Mum and for you it'll be a walk in the park. And at the end of it you may no longer have AF. Isn't that worth a comparatively short period of discomfort.

    Like 99% of us on here who have had ablations - we'd have another tomorrow if it became necessary.

    Don't be swayed by the success of your first cardio-version. Certainly, the 2 years AF free that followed is impressive but this horrible condition is progressive and I can promise you, the next cardio-version won't keep you in normal sinus rhythm for anything like that length of time again. Eventually, they don't work at all and sadly if you leave it that long, neither do ablations.

    When your ablation date comes through, grab it with gusto - you won't regret it.

  • I find this very difficult to understand. Others here have said that it is no worse than going to the dentist. I had an ablation a year ago and have recently had a tooth crowned and I think that I agree with that. In addition my life is so much better. If you are worried ask if you can have a general anaesthetic then you will not know anything about it.

    Good luck.


  • I too am on the waiting list for an ablation, and I too was scared to death of the procedure, so I talked to my surgeon and asked if I could have a General Anaesthetic instead of the sedation. I told him that I couldnt cope with the length of time I would have to lay still, as I suffer with back pain, and although I would be given pain relief, I was worried I would go into spasm. He agreed it would be better for me to have a general, and now although I am still very anxious, I know I will cope much better. Good luck with yours, and lets compare notes afterwards :)

  • The worst medical experience of my life (and I've had two babies) was having the remains of a shattered tooth removed. I am on the subjects of pain, gore, noise and total awfulness here, and leaving embarrassment to one side. I've had three ablations with sedation and the most painful bit really was a pinprick in the thumb for the INR test. Why not ask your mother what it was that was so dreadful?

  • I am really sorry that you Mother seems to have this idea of ablation as it could compromise your own life if you allow it to. Ask her what was so terrible. Ask her what it was that upset her so much.

    OK when first offered ablation many years ago I put it off being so scared but as my quality of life fell rapidly I changed my thinking and went ahead. Three later and no AF I knew I had made the right choice. That was eight years ago during which I have done things I would not otherwise have been able to.

    I was the person who started the story about it being far less worrying than root canal treatment and I STAND BY THAT. OK all mine were done with GA not sedation but that really depends on your EP. (By the way they are not surgeons and would not like to be called that.)

    I have been involved with AF Association almost from it forming and can think of only one person who claimed that they wished not to have had an ablation but then again this was very soon after the event and we know it takes many weeks and months for the heart to heal and settle down. We lost contact with them soon after so even they may have changed their mind.

    AF is almost always progressive so please don't leave it till it is too late without serious thinking and some darned good reasons.

  • Hi like you ive been putting it off for 2yrs, they offered me an ablation after my cv but just didn't think I needed it until 2 months ago and my condition worsened, reading everyone's replies has made me realise it is the right thing for me and what mum went through was also maybe to with her other health problems as well. Thankyou for your reply x

  • After 2 ablations and the usual anxiety just before and almost talking myself out of going in on the day because 'my AF wasn't that bad!' I wwa amazed at just how easy it was and SO interesting. I had a mix of sedation and anaesthesia but not a GA and didn't have any pain and once the drugs were in - absolutely NO anxiety!

    It does take time to recover from and they don't tell you that, yes it is a major procedure on your heart but you know what - it is SO much better than having AF. My QoL improved from the moment I came around - I felt my heart go from AF to NSR and for the first time I could ever remember I wasn't conscious of my heartbeat - panic - then reassured that was normal, not feeling every beat!

    Ask Mum what was so terrible for her as everyone's perception is very different. If someone has always been well and healthy and never had any medical intervention it could be a shock, or, dare I say this - I have met people who would hype it up to gain attention and sympathy.

    Anyway - you are not your Mum so only you can make the decision for you so research and ask lots of detailed questions on how and why and chances of success of your EP.

    Best wishes CD

  • Hi cdreamer I've got to say after reading everyone's replies it did make me think has mum just hyped it up a bit for some sympathy lol, I am going ahead with the ablation, I know it's the right way for me. Thankyou for your reply

  • There are so many things that vary very considerably from person to person. Things like pain threshold or type of pain; tolerance to change; tolerance of lying down; not liking it that there is anything wrong with them; etc.

  • Do you know when you can have it done? Do they give you an idea?

  • Were you in in constant afib again before you decided on having your second ablation? I'm trying to make the decision of having a second or not and have little episodes maybe once or twice a week. Will this get worse over time? I'm guessing yes as they have been more often but they don't last long. My first ablation was the way to go but the GA left me quite drained and fatigued for many months but still glad I had it done. Of course not really wanting to go through it again one year later but will if need to. The " need to" is the catch phrase as EP says "it's up to you".

  • Personally I would go for it now. You don't know how quickly it will become worse. You could flip into persistent AF in which case the chances of success are lower. You don't know whetstone or not in the future other health issues might cause problems or prevent you having it. Also lastly, but by no means leastly, there is the saying AF begets AF.

  • I was thinking same thing Peter. It's certainly not going to get better. I'm wanting to wait til November but not sure that's even the wisest choice. It would only be a difference of 2months since my EP is booking now in September.......ugh.....the whole thing is so worrisome and heavy on the mind. Well I'm sending back the heart monitor I have been wearing for past 2 weeks and we shall see if that report pushes me quicker than November!

  • Hi CDreamer...were you in constant afib before your second ablation and if not how bad was it that made you decide to go for it a second time?

  • Not constant but getting there. The first ablation seemed to work and I felt so fantastic I overdid things and had relapse with what I now believe to be autonomic induced arrhythmia with POTS which put me in acute cardiac unit for 3 days.

    After that I was having 3-4 episodes a week and was very symptomatic so I figured it couldn't get much worse as my BP would regularly crash to 70/30 if I tried to stand which the medics couldn't figure. This all meant I virtually couldn't function a lot of the time and was constantly fatigued.

    My thinking is that everything is a risk:benefit ratio.

  • I agree risk:benefit. I am thinking I'll know when it's time and as my cardiologist says " you want the job completed". What is POTS? Since your second ablation you are better right? I agree with Peter about getting it done sooner than later.

  • Postural low BP. When in AF my BP would crash - 70/30 regularly and had gone below that if I tried to stand. If I lay supine it would be normal - it really got the docs - but they didn't get it! I have had it all my life - when I stood I would go dizzy & sort of blackness descend. Since ablation - BP normal in fact starting to climb a bit so having to watch it. Never thought I'd have that problem!

  • Thankyou all for your replies, I'd done a lot of research into the ablation before agreeing it was the right way forward for me and was happy about it, mum did frighten me she said it was so painful and the worst thing she'd ever had, but reading all your replies has made me realise that with mum having a lot of health problems maybe that's the reason it was so bad for her, anyway I've decided that I'm still going ahead with it so thankyou all for your replies they've made me feel so much better about it x

  • Hi ginger do you know when you are getting the ablation done now that you have decided to do it?

  • Hi eliza2 im on the waiting list, my cardiologist did say that it will be about 2 months and that was 3 weeks ago

  • Hi there, I had the ablation done in April this year under a general anaesthetic and sailed through it.

    Maybe you could chat with your EP regarding that?

  • I qas born with a congenital

    Heart defect, I've had 3 open heart surgeries the last of which was 2 years ago. I've had AF for the past 3 years and had 16 cardioversions. I had an ablation in March, it was a very difficult decision to make because I have a Dacron patch and a mechanical valve and therefore very risky. I had to go down to London to have it done (I live in Scotland). I would say, go for it. I knew I had to get it done because otherwise, I was going to eventually stop getting cardioverted and be in perm AF or get my sinus nose blasted and have a perm pacemaker. I knew I would always regret not doing it, even if it didn't work. I've been in sinus for 13 wks now. Still abit tachy and I have been cardioverted twice shortly afterwards but that's normal in the first wee while after getting it done. Go for

    It, it could change your


  • Janarazzi I'm always amazed at how much so many of you on this forum have gone through and still manage to be positive and supportive. You are very courageous and sound like you have a lot of strength. It helps me to read your story and your encouragement to "Go for it"

  • Go for it.. You will learn how to live again!, that's how I feel after having one in April. No regrets but totally understand your anxiety. Very important to take it slowly for quite a while afterwards, would advise not to rush your recovery. Good luck if you decide to take the plunge!


  • I had an ablation last Nov and have no regrets. No hospital procedure is a barrel of laughs, and mine was no exception. But the result of having no AF since then has made the ablation well worth it. My advice is don't think about your Mum's experience. We are all different and react to things differently, so don't think you'll be the same as your Mum! Everyone is nervous of procedures on the heart. That is perfectly normal. Just grit your teeth and do it, get it over with and get on with your life. I hope all goes easily for you. Let us know!

  • Hi. The worst part of an ablation is thinking about it. hope it goes well.

  • I had a cryo-ablation under general anaesthetic 6 days ago. It went well and I have been trying to take it easy. Sore throat afterwards and very slight tightness in my chest if I do too much but today that has eased. I had PAF for 7 years which then progressed last year to 3 months of persistant AF. The consultants I have talked too have all said it is better to take action sooner than later. If the NHS have offered you an ablation do not look a gift horse in the mouth.

  • Not sure how an Ablation could be described as the worst thing you could go through.

    O.K The anxiety leading up to an Ablation is probably less than you would experience prior to flying for the first time. The burning sensation I felt in my throat when I momentarily came out of sedation (Local Anesthetic) was nothing like a root canal treatment and trust me they put you back under within a second of you making a groan.

    So, 2 ablations, the second under GA and the only real discomfort is the anxiety we create prior to being sedated.

    I am told that some people are ablated without either Local or General Anesthetic so any fear of waking up during the Ablation should not be a fear. I think I just managed an urgh before being sent back into cuckoo land.

    Go for it.

  • It was not bad for me and they did have to go into both sides of my heart puncturing the wall between chambers. I was comfortable, I felt what was going on but it did not hurt. The worst for me was the recovery. I had a terrible migraine with flashing lights off and on for 10 days. The doctor thought it may have been from the meds given during surgery. I am so happy to have done it because now I no longer have the issue. I just hope it lasts for good.

  • I had two cardioversions and finally an ablation. I had an Ablation over six months ago.

    The Ablation went great, no complications whatsoever. In the first couple months I had a few very short Afib episodes but nothing for the past four months. I have an Alivecor one lead EKG monitor and I use it almost every morning. My EKG chart and pulse rate has been fine. My pulse rate at that time of day runs from the mid to upper sixties.

    I would do it again with no hesitation. I am hoping to be one of the sixty odd percent that has a permanent solution.

    I am a seventy one year old male.

    In your place I would be not be anxious. I would want to get it done as soon as possible.

  • Hi, ginger furball, I had a carioversion performed just in January this year, I also have sleep apnoea , I told them and told them what ever else happened, I need ed that mask, especially with even a light anesthetic if it depressed your breathing, as I was taken out of the room where they did the cardioversion I heard the nurse mention the mask, I also heard the Anesthetic guy say I didnt need it, next thing I knew I was surrounded by nurses trying to whack the machine and/or oxygen on my face because I had stopped breathing, and being partly still under the anesthetic I didnt automatically wake up, needless to say, the Cardioversion didnt work and they want to do it again, like you I am terrified of letting them loose on me again, and am going to ask my doctor to send me to the hospital that takes care of my sleep apnoea, which is a well known heart hospital. I really dont know whether I can go through that again, the nurses were wonderful, so was my consultant at my local hospital, it was just one arrogant Anethatist who though he knew better than the experts! Hope this doesnt need any "Correcting" admin guys, regards. Lyzzie x

  • Hi Gingerfurball. Just to add to the chorus...I had an ablation in May and was very, VERY worried beforehand. But it was not as I expected at all. I had a General Anaesthetic and didn't know anything about it. Yes I had a sore throat for a week afterwards from the TOE pipe down there looking for clots in the heart. Yes there was bruising for a few weeks round the entry points in the groin and my left wrist. Yes I did feel a bit as if I'd been hit in the chest for a week after. I didn't get much sleep in the ward - but the care was splendid, kind and attentive. A cardioversion had only held the Persistent AF at bay for 10 weeks. It came back. Since the Ablation I have had 2 runs of AF - one lasting 10 days, one lastin 4 hours. But for the last 4 weeks have been AF free ( quite a few strange ectopics etc ). If I needed another ablation I would have one without hesitation. (Though obviously it would be nice if I didn't need one!) Nothing venture nothing win.

  • Looks like it's a YESSS then......good luck, John

  • It certainly is John, thankyou all for your comments, that tight feeling in my chest has gone n hopefully I'll sleep better tonght lol, you've made me feel so much better about the whole thing


  • Hi Everyone, I am probably going to have an ablation in the next two weeks, but am worried now by some of the comments regarding recovery time since I am travelling to the UK and USA mid August for 7 Weeks (I live in Western Australia). Has anyone travelled fairly soon after the procedure please?

  • Talk to your EP and also your insurance company. I was told do absolutely nothing for the first week only tv remote, phone and iPad and not much more the second week but start some (or not much) gentle walking the second week and then gradually do more things. You should definitely get transported in a golf buggy around the airport.

    When you phone your insurance company ask to speak to someone specifically trained in answering questions about medical conditions because often the ordinary person who answers the phone doesn't and may give you wrong information.

  • Thanks Peter I will follow your advice. Hopefully all will be well, I have 3 weeks till I leave :-) Fortunately I have Private Health Insurance so won't have to sit on a waiting list for the procedure.

  • Linda, an ablation needs and deserves one's best efforts to make it a success and embarking almost at once on a trip to the other side of the world that involves walking and sightseeing is really trying to have your cake and eat it.

  • Point taken thank you. Will wait and discuss with my cardiologist 😆

  • See if he can sort out the AF and provide you with a means of dealing with it if it happens again, have a great trip and then think about the ablation.

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