Decided on an ablation

I'm fairly new to this site. I'm a 60 year old woman who has been dealing with paroxysmal afib since September 2015. I had been taking a calcium channel blocker for my blood pressure and my doc upped it to a stronger dose to control heart rate. I am also on Pradaxa which a tolerate quite well. I'm having more frequent episodes though and am worried that it's only going to get worse. Elected today to have an ablation because I don't want to go on anti-arrithmics and be on these powerful meds for the rest of my life. I'm hoping that the one shot ablation will be successful for me but am aware that it's only an 80% success rate and some people have to go back for two or even more procedures. Any one out there who can tell me of their ablation procedure experience ? Curious about the length of recovery, was there any pain, did it help resolve your afib problems and how fast could you go back to work and assume your regular lifestyle? Was it worth it? Would you still choose to do it given you experience? Any answers on your experience would be much appreciated. I'm scheduled for February 2017. Thanks much!

9 Replies

  • I started my AF journey in 2004 and things have greatly improved since then. I had three ablations before my AF finally went away in 2008 and none caused me any problems. I had GA for all three and of course full recovery from GA takes a long time.

    Pain was minimal--,a little chest pain for a day or so afterwards, a bit of an ache in the groin entry site and a massive abstract art bruise in groin and thigh which took ages to fade to grey. My worst pain was due to sciatica which was exacerbated by having to lay flat for four hours after my third procedure and frankly that transcended all else!

    Recovery is best done slowly. I don't do inactivity so of course after my first I over did things in spades, wrongly thinking that because I didn't have a hug zip up my front my heart was fine. I was crawling under cars a couple of days afterwards and am quite sure this is why it failed so miserably. Best to do nothing for the first week and not a lot more for the second and then ease back into normal life gradually. Use the bruise as a guide and when it has gone you are getting better. It takes at least three or even six months for the heart to fully heal and you may well have some funnies in that time so don't be worried that it hasn't worked.

    Was it worth it? Abso blooming lutely. Mine was a difficult journey perhaps partly due to me being in the early days of ablation but I would do it again in a heartbeat if needed. IF as it sounds you are going for cryo-ablation then results for these are good. With lone paroxysmal AF they do have a good success rate with one procedure but for more complex cases a top up with RF may bee needed. One hopes that your AF is not too well established and that this will be your only visit to the catheter laboratory.

    Merry Christmas.


  • Thank you so much for your response. It makes me feel better about my decision. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and yours.

  • There is a very reassuring video on Ablation on the NHS Choices website, its a real person having one I watched it and it was this that was the final thing that made me decide to go for it not had it yet but hopefully within 8-10 weeks or so.

  • I was diagnosed with AFib when I collapsed in a shop Christmas 2003. I probably had it for a decade before that thinking about it now. By 2003 it had become persistent, i.e. round the clock. First I was put on rhythm control drugs which worked very well. After 2-3 years I decided to have an ablation on my EP's advice, to get off the drugs hwich were having side-effects.

    I had my ablation under sedation, which I was concerned about, who wouldn't be, but it actually turned out to be easy as the drugs they gave me made me feel incredibly relaxed and drowsy. About half way through I remember feeling pain when they started ablating, I recall groaning, then immediately hearing the work "morphine", and then next thing I woke up in bed, all done.

    My AF disappeared completely and immediately, and I stopped all drugs except anti-coagulants which I'm on for life I guess.

    I had to be careful for a week or so. But I was back to very gentle work at the end of the week. I am self-employed to having time off is not much of an option really, so I just sorted some things out that were no more demanding than sitting at home watching the tele.

    I had another ablation attempted after 8-9 years when my AF came back a little bit, but that had ot be aborted because my ticker wouldn't play up even when stimulated. That was under GA and again was no problem at all. People say they feel groggy after GA, I just felt 20 years younger, don't now what thye gave me but I'd like some more :-).

    If offered a third I will go for it.


  • Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. I'm feeling pretty good about my decision to go ahead with the ablation. I've had afib for less than one year and have been told my heart is very strong and in great condition except for the electrical issue, so hopefully it'll be one and done but I'll deal with whatever I will need to. Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday and a grand New Year!

  • By way of background, I'm a 59 year old male. I had persistent AF.

    I had my first, and so far only, ablation 4 years ago. Aside from some slight discomfort during the process itself, the fact that I can remember hardly anything negative about the experience says all you need to know.

    Since then I've had a small number of reoccurrences, sorted by a couple of flecanide.

    I keep fit by cycling, gyming and swimming. I take magnesium daily and try to eat well to keep a healthy weight. I'm also lucky that alcohol doesn't set off my AF (but I don't overdo it!).

    I accept the likelihood that I'll need further treatment at some point but I can't recommend ablation enough as it's given me my life back.

    Good luck with whatever choices you make.

  • Thanks for your reply. It is very encouraging. Wishing you and youra a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year!

  • When first diagnosed in feb 2013 (i was 63) i was given the choice immediately - meds or ablation. My EP was of the opinion tnat the earlier an ablation was carried out, the more successful it was. After some thinking time, advice from this site and a 2nd consultation with EP, i decided to go ahead and procedure done in Nov 2013. Procedure really easy although VERY nervous. Took it easy for a few weeks. I had a lot of arrhythmias for about 5 months and then all stopped. I have been blissfully clear of AF since. I take no meds except apixaban.

    I had stomach problems after - heartburn, bloating etc.. Gradually reduced but stil! need to watch that. Also, hiugher resting heart rate but gradually improved.

    So i would do it agan. I'd say go for it and good luck 🍀

  • Thanks for your comment. Great to hear that it was successful! Happy holidays to you and yours!

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