My first Catheter Ablation experience(s) - AF Association

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My first Catheter Ablation experience(s)



I thought I would write to say that I had my first (hopefully, only) Catheter Ablation at a famous London hospital 2 weeks ago. All went well, apparently, except when it turned out there was a complication and I was there for 3 hours instead of 2 hours, with only the local anaesthetic around the groin (not heart!) area! So, I did feel the odd aches and pains and had to raise my hand once to say please stop!!!

All was well and I rested for 4 hours lying flat on the hospital bed. All the staff were friendly, professional, upbeat and kind.

However, on the way home (a very hot and sultry day, going by train) I got dizzy and faint and had palpitations. When I got home, when walking to the local shops, just a 2 minute walk, in the heat, but in the shade, I felt dizzy and faint, had to sit down and have water in Starbucks and then slowly walk home, with my son, who was visiting me.

After a few more 'episodes', one when out for a meal and I could barely speak as the effort made me feel faint, I decided to call my Cardiologist who put me in touch with the Arrhythmia Nurse. She said that I can have AFib symptoms after an ablation and even worse ones in the first few weeks. Also, my body was responding to the invasion it had been put through, especially with it being a twice as long procedure as expected. My body was letting me know it didn't like it!

WHY was I not warned of that? I had begun to think that the procedure had not worked. All my family and friends thought I would be sorted and back to 'normal'. If I had been warned, I would have not had the shock of not only the usual AFib - but more often!

I would rather have a warning of how bad it might be afterwards than think I shall be feeling great but actually feel almost worse. These symptoms have lessened since that first week - but still occur - and I am having to take it easy! I have to make myself slow down as I am quite active. The nurse (I saw at my local hospital) said I should 'take it easy.'

Apart from this, I am not overweight, don't overeat or eat junk food, I never have and have never smoked. AFib is my only health issue and don't know why I have it. For me, it is not my lifestyle or what I eat! So, it is hard to 'take it easy'. My knitting helps me sit still!

I thought I would share this, as I know people think that the catheter ablation will sort things out. It may do, and can do, but certainly not (for me) straight away, and I think a warning of that possibility should be given before the procedure!

Hoping this might be helpful to someone who is about to have the catheter ablation procedure.

14 Replies

Oh my, you are going to be deluged by folk on this site telling you to stop whatever it is you are doing and do nothing! I am amazed that no one mentioned the need to take things very very slowly during your recovery. I will leave it to others to chant the mantra but about the only thing you should be doing is turning the tv on and off - gently.

Hope you are feeling better and following the nurse's instructions. Take it easy, very easy, keep hydrated and avoid the hot weather.

paddygal in reply to Peddling

For how long should you take it easy? I was advised a week, others say 2 weeks/month?


I'm due to have a cryoablation on 4th August at St Barts in London, however I have opted for a general anaesthetic .... thanks for your account i found it very helpful. I had posted a question previously about travelling home afterwards on the train and was advised against it, so I shall be taking a taxi.

Really apprehensive about the procedure and the after effects and I will be taking the advice on here to take it easy for the first couple of weeks. I wonder why we are not told this as a rule by the Dr's. I was given the impression that I will be back to normal within a few days to a week and if I am, great ... but I'm not expecting it to be the case.

Hi I had a cryoablation at Barts on Thursday

The doctors and staff were really good

I didn't feel

Pain just a bit uncomfortable but I opted to stay awake

The doctor said it had worked but I would be followed up in. Linux in three months

So far still in Nsr feeling a bit tired and have picked up a irvine infection but I am glad I have had it done as I have already stopped beta blocker and told only to take a tablet if my heart starts to play up

Good luck for the 4th you will be fine but take plenty of rest x

Thank you Deb - I hope you are feeling better. x


You should have come here first!

The general guidance is do nothing but TV remote for the first week and not a lot more the second and then ease back gently. I was advised not to travel by public transport and was not allowed out of the hospital until my wife arrived to collect me so I'm not surprised that you felt rough. You should not have been alone.

It will take at least three to six months for full recovery. Yes we all think we will be dancing the night away the next day but it aint gonna happen. Just because you don't have a giant zip up your front does not make what happened to your heart any less of a trauma.

NOW REST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

fifitb in reply to BobD

Thank you for that advice!


As a regular on this site and a history of AF going back 24+ years ...3 ablation and 17+ Dc cardioversions I have to say that it was never stressed to me by the hospitals to take it easy after my ablations....2009/2011/2013. Common sense made me take it easy but I do think that some hospitals are lacking in providing proper guidance to patients on discharge judging by some of the posts on here.


I'm sorry to hear that no one had warned you of how it would feel after your ablation.

Before my first ablation I looked online to see how others had coped afterwards and it appeared that everyone had gone back to a normal life within days, cycling, running etc. I asked one of the medical staff before the procedure how long it would be before I could climb mountains again and was told, "after a few days". Poor fool me believed it, so I can totally understand how you too had no idea you were going to be laid low for a few weeks afterwards. You have to take it gently the first week, then very slowly start doing a little more during the second. Never push yourself to do more as it will exhaust you

After my second ablation I felt drained for about 6 weeks and couldn't walk very far. I was thinking I'd never get better

After my third, well I have to stay I felt better almost immediately. I would say that no two ablations are ever alike and while one person is better quickly, for another it can take a long time to pick up.

I hope you soon feel a lot better.


fifitb in reply to jeanjeannie50

Thank you for the kind reply and for mentioning your experiences! Really helpful!

I had my ablation in sept and I am only just starting to think it has worked no way could I have gone home on the train and as for shopping well just couldn't have done it ,the hospital gave me no instruction what to do ,thank goodness I had already found this site and had lots of advice I am still on all meds see my cardio in three weeks so will see what happens then. But you must give your heart time to heal

fifitb in reply to Mazza23

Will do as you say and give my heart time. I do feel exhausted some days, as today!

I had a cryoablation in London back at the end of April and like you was led to believe that after a couple of days I'd be fine. I had a general anaesthetic and stayed over night but the next day going home on the train I felt so sick and for the first two weeks had ectopics all the time missing every third beat. I tired very easily etc, etc. If it wasn't for this sight I think I'd have been really worried and as we know anxiety doesn't go well with afib.

I was back in Accident & Emergency on Saturday, as my heart was racing (not as bad as before the ablation) but I felt so dizzy, I thought I was going to faint and I began to shiver all over, and my hands went cold as ice. I was in A&E 4 hours, and had 4 blood tests, and ECGs and BPs and a drip to hydrate me. Everything was fine in my results - and my heart eventually slowed down. The BEST thing about my stay in A&E was that after the most dreadful, ear-piercing, wailing screams from the next bed - and then silence - I heard the teeny cry of a baby! A baby girl was born - a real emergency as there was no time to get the mother to the maternity ward! Nurses were crying and it was amazing and cheered me up!

Today, I am exhausted again, and feel wobbly - heart doing something but I'm not sure what and I feel dizzy if I speak! I am SO disappointed in this, and had to ring my cardiologist (no reply yet!) and my GP - who I am seeing for a review and more tests on Friday (or before if things get worse, hoping not!). I feel WORSE than before I had the ablation and am a bit fed up! However, I try to be positive and think maybe it's just because of what I went through and I just have to take it easy, but I want to have energy to do things!

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