AF Association
13,243 members16,116 posts

AF ABLATION POSSIBLY MY NEXT COUSRE OF ACTION

Hi , I’m. Writing this blog for some advice as I’ve been diagnosed with PAF in July 2017 and suffer with it approx 4-5 times a week. I’m 45 years old reasonably fit some days I can run 5 km or cycle 10 miles and other days I’m stuck on a settee sleeping or just generally tired. Not to mention bouts of being light headed

I do drink alcohol ( couple of pints on a Friday ) which I’m told can aggravate it but note that this is not usually my trigger

Going to bed and laying down specifically on my back normally sets it off where my heart beat can range btw 32 bpm and 168bpm

I’ve tried all sorts of meds and I’m currently taking bisoprolol Flecainide and apixaban twice a day but still suffering from bouts of AF sometimes lasting 45mins - 1 hour plus

Christmas Eve I had a episode reaching 140bpm. The nurse who has been assisting me has now referred me to a consultant and believes my next course of action would be cryoballoon ablation

Having read up on this, I’m asking anyone who has had this procedure what the recovery time is and what side effects the procedure gives you ??

I’m informed you are sedated and not ‘knocked out’ for the op??

Do you you get back to ‘normal life’(medication free)??

I would appreciate any help/ assistance/ tips or advice from anyone who has experienced the operation or can assist me in general making this a little easier than it’s been

Regards

The Woodman 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

28 Replies
oldestnewest

Hi mate i was 42 when i got diagnosed with af and i am now 49 and have had the ablation procedure done twice.My personel experience was the first time was great no pain and seem to have cured the problem but my second experience i had a pain all day in my heart and i would not have it done again.The procedure does make you feel better and we all different so my advice to you would be yes 100 percent then after that it's up to you.Yours'e might not come back again,but mine did after 2 and is coming back again.Drugs i thing will always be part of your life as they are mine but it will depend on you after the procedure.

3 likes
Reply

Thanks mate, that’s quite a reassuring response to start. I’m told the waiting list for the op is 6-8 months so I’m still sometime away. However I have booked a private consultation to start things going forward as the last 5 months of the AF becoming more frequent has started taking its toll

Frustrated is one word for it as when it commences it’s quite restricting. I have tried ‘running it off’ in the gym but a 2 mile run which usually takes me 17-18 mins took me 32 mins and put me on my arse. ( That was the week before I was officially diagnosed having been taken into hospital) !!!

1 like
Reply

this procedure for you could cure you.so go for it mate and hopefully thats you sorted.unfortunately for me it didn't and had to go back but like a say we all different.

Reply

Hi Woody, if you type cryoablation in the "search AF Association" box top right of this page you will see lots of information that will help you. Also, go to YouTube and type in "heart foundation ablation" and you can see a number of videos.

Recovery time varies, as long as you do nothing for the first week, and not much more for the second, things generally get back to normal within a month. It can take up to 6 months for the scar tissue to heal and it is not unusual to have runs of AF and/or ectopics during that period, therefore it is not unusual to stay on your medication but this does vary and your EP will determine what is best for you. Sedation is preferred by many EP's as this speeds up the process. It can get a bit uncomfortable, but as long as you let the team know, they can increase the levels of sedation if required.

Well getting back to normal as you call it is the intention, and certainly many do, although it can sometimes take more than one procedure. Very few people have actually said that they regretted having the procedure, but you need to bear in mind forums tend to hear from people who have had some problems, whereas those that don't, move on as they say. I'm going to bed now, but hopefully this will help, and I'm sure others will comment as well.

Good luck

2 likes
Reply

Many thanks for your input. 👍

Reply

Hi Woody911, sorry to hear your Christmas Day was done at marred by an A Fib episode, been there done that too last Christmas 2016 before my radiofrequency ablation a couple of months ago. I am curious as to why you are being offered a cryoablation rather than radiofrequency, as my EP said he latter permits the practioner to ablate other problem areas which may exist with the latter method whereas with cryoablation merely the 4 pulmonary vein only can be ablated?

Reply

Because here in UK it only takes about 1 1/2 hours and often sorts things out fiirst time if the AF is simple. Should AF resist later then an RF ablation may be needed to mop up other areas. I had three RF ablations over four years ending 2008 but cryo was in its infancy back then.There are also more cryo centres than RF which requires GA therefore more staff (anaesthetist etc).

2 likes
Reply

Hi Bob, thanks for clarifying the position 're Cryoablation in UK. I was told that RF ablation was preferable as extra problem areas could be zapped if found on mapping. I was therefore surprised that you had to undergo 3 attempts to clear the problem. You were brave to do so, not so sure I would like to go the second round!!

Reply

My second was a mop up which is quite normal and my third because I heal too well. lol I would go again if ever needed as well. No bravery required since I found it far less worrying that root canal treatment at the dentist. When your QOL is rubbish it is an easy choice.

1 like
Reply

I had cryoablation ablation two and a half years ago. Despite minor problems discharged within twenty four hours. Procedure was painless and recovery to more or normal life took about two weeks. I was sixty nine at the time. Procedure was entirely successful and I was and remain off all drugs. I was aware of ectopic for a few months but knew that they were harmless. The procedure turned my life around. The only caveat is that you should try to have it done at a centre of excellence where they carry out a lot of procedures as the success rate is higher.

Peter

4 likes
Reply

Hi Woody,

Long post warning!

I'm the same age as you and have had PAF (flutter) for 20 years - for the past 18 of those it never bothered me, self terminated within a few hrs, and so I never did anything about it. 3 years ago however I had an episode that wouldn't stop so I ended up requiring a cardioversion. I then decided enough was enough and had a flutter ablation last December (2016). This successfully treated the flutter but unfortunately revealed PAF (fibrillation). Over the past year I've been getting an episode monthly which is terminated with 200mg flecainide. I do quite a lot of exercise (cycle approx 6000 miles/yr) and train 3 times a week at high intensity so although the PAF doesnt affect me much, I decided to go for cryoablation. I had this done 3 weeks ago - all fine until yesterday when I had another episode of PAF requiring flecainide to terminate - gutted Obviously but according to entries on this forum, that doesnt necessarily mean its been a failure so fingers crossed!

My advice to you; you're a young chap and AF doesnt get better by itself. If its bothering you, the sooner you start on the ablation pathway, the more likely it is to be successful .......but obviously only you can make that decision as everything in life has risks!

Best wishes,

Paul

3 likes
Reply

Thanks Paul.

The cycling for me is using the wattbike in my local gym, as a form of cardiovascular exercise. I do push it to my limit. I gave it a go the other day having just had an ‘episode’ of AF prior to attending the gym.

However this time when I completed the ride my recovery rate was awful and I was stuck on the floor for 10-15 mins feeling very light headed. To top it off I went to bed that evening and went into another bout of irregular 140 bpm !!

Hence I haven’t been since, but blame the Xmas festivities for that (Poor excuse I know)😊

Reply

Hi I had my first ablation 9years ago I had full anaesthetic I felt well after. Then it came back this April I had ablation in August again with full anaesthetic this time it took longer to get over it probably because of age good luck with yours

1 like
Reply

Hello Woody. I think it's more a case of what might not go well with an ablation rather than what are the side effects. There are very significant risks, but nothing ventured, nothing gained and the things that can go wrong very rarely happen.

The alternative ways forward are medication and lifestyle changes - or putting up with AF - and many of us have felt that ablation is the best way to improve our situation. I've had three ablations and the second enabled me to give up antiarrhythmic medication - I used to take 150mgs of flecainide twice every day.

I've had sedation with each ablation and was blissfully away in la la land. Some EPs offer or prefer anaesthesia. I had no problems, felt fine afterwards and had to remember not to do too much for the first two weeks. The only regret I have is that I let things slide and took a lot of medication between ablations one and two.

1 like
Reply

Please read up on vagal AF and try lifestyle changes BEFORE ablation - go on the waiting list of course but as vagal AF is often triggered by exercise or rest and sometimes both there is a lot you can do to help yourself.

I’ve had 2 ablations Which left me 2 years free of AF but now have vagal AF which I can mostly control with valsalva maneuvers and avoiding lifestyle triggers. It’s know how and to do that - know thy body so keep a symptom diary of when it strikes and what you were doing/eating.

Record your HR and look for dips and spikes - I know I can’t exceed HR of 120 when exercising as that triggers AF but a dip can also trigger it if I rest.

Cut the alcohol even though you don’t think it a trigger - just to test. See if sleeping propped up helps or whether or not one side or the other triggers it, most of all - improve your vagal tone - google for lots of suggestions to do this. If you can measure HRV this will give you a good indication of how you are doing.

I use a power breather which has helped, cold water face splash every morning, slow breathing technique will also help and certain foods or meals will also trigger so watch out for those. I know I MUST sit for at least 20 minutes after eating otherwise I trip into AF, daily Mindfulness Practice will also really help & teach slow breathing - aim for 6 breaths per minute but you need to practice so that when AF strikes you remain calm and rememember to do it.

As soon as you feel AF coming on blow into something like a syringe with plunger removed or hold your nose crouch and bear down whilst blowing out. There are other methods but those I have found to be most effective. If you slow the AF to take hold - they will be much less effective and it is a matter of slow breathing and sitting it out. Dehydration is a major trigger - drink x2 amount of water as you think you need (learned the hard way).

I suspect your endurance cycling and running is a major trigger so consider easing off until you have things more under control.

Remember that ablation is not a cure, many people need more than one, there are risks and it is a procedure for improving quality of life. Having said that if all else fails the earlier you have one the more chances of success so get on that waiting list and hope in the meantime you can improve your QOL yourself.

Hope that helps CD,

9 likes
Reply

The more you deal with lifestyle issues, as indicated by CDreamer, the more successful your ablation is likely to be. Make sure also, that you have checked out all other possible health issues. AF is often an indication of problems elsewhere, eg thyroid, teeth, sleep apnea etc, so dealing with them should help.

I suspect the source of your problem may be over-training, which is a recognised problem. Many successful sportsmen go on to develop AF. I think you will find 'The Haywire Heart' by Dr John Mandrola (an EP and cyclist) will help you understand the connections between exercise and AF, and how you can best manage them.

1 like
Reply

I had (first and so far only) RF ablation in November 2013 and have been AF free since then. I am off all meds except apixaban which is recommended for me as over 65. I found the procedure easy but I had a lot of arrhythmias for about 5 months after. Then all settled down and BLISS. no AF

So I would agree with above - go on waiting list but try all relevant lifestyle changes and go gentler on the exercise.

Good luck 🍀

Reply

OK, I'll play devil's advocate. Your PAF is due to taking too much intense exercise for too long.

Stop exercising completely, just normal walking. 3 month trial.

No more PAF.

1 like
Reply

It is easier said than done for someone who is used to intensive exercise as it is similar to addiction - no exercise = jitters, depression & basically withdrawal symptoms - so tapering gradually is a better option.

I have a grandson who is an elite endurance athelete and he got jitters on Christmas Day because he had done minimal swim & only 10Km run that day! He couldn’t wait to get to the gym Boxing Day.........

Reply

Not sure about that CD. I was a lifelong endorphin addict, and the concept of cutting down on exercise is perhaps less realistic than going cold turkey. For an exercise addict, it can be much harder to sit on a bike and pedal slowly, than not pedal at all.

Think nicotine , caffeine and other mild addictions. For many, immediate abstinence works better than weaning off gradually. Few who are committed to "giving up" will be unable to cope with the withdrawal symptoms when the stakes are high, unless the addiction is severe. And it's a lot quicker if you are testing a theory.

1 like
Reply

I’m not massively into my training. I just do enough to keep myself reasonably fit. Since that last episode I mentioned I returned to the gym this morning 3km run and 8km bike just to ‘tick over’.

It’s slightly irregular but not racing at the time of typing this.

I have wondered if spicy food or white pepper could kick it off but I was informed that food wouldn’t be the cause!!

Reply

So that would be a no to abstinence then? We exercise junkies are all the same 🤣

1 like
Reply

I have permament AF and spicy food does start my heart rate jumping around. I think that here are quite a few people on here who avoid spicy food because it sets off AF. MSG in chinese food can trigger AF. I love chocolates but more than 3 choccies will start my hear racing, so I normally avoid chocolate now. Have had a few over the xmas period, but rationed myself to just two a night from my fancy box of chocolates.

Cassie

Reply

Interesting to see what you’ve said there as I like all 3 of what you mentioned.

I certainly eat a bar a day when I’m working and do like the odd Chinese meal.

Thanks for your input

Reply

When you say you have permanent AF are you indicatiing that you are in AF all the time?

Reply

You have a good chance of success with the ablation as it sounds as though you have lone AF. It is worth considering what might have caused the inflammation in your heart that caused the AF - from what you say, it may be excessive exercise. It was in my case, after my ablation (combined cryo and RF) I reduced my exercise levels a bit, particularly the bits where I really pushed myself. I've been AF free for the last 8 years.

Also do try to find a centre of excellence for the ablation and be prepared to travel. There is a huge difference in success rate between different EPs (from 25% to 75%+).

1 like
Reply

Hi Mark

How did you find out about success rates? What defines a successful ablation?

"Success" will inevitably relate to patient selection. For example normal echocardiogram group, and severely dilated left atrium with fibrotic change in the wall group. PAF vs permanent.

I've seen data on numbers of procedures but not success. I would be suspicious of so called success rates. Figures can be made to look better with dubious statistics

More important in my opinion, is the experience of the EP as evidenced by how many ablations they have done and how frequently they do them. Availability of 3D mapping seems important too. And I would be doubtful about having an ablation in a private hospital in England outside London if an NHS service operated in the same area.

Reply

Hi Badger,

Yes you're right, it is very difficult to judge success. The number of ablations done is the key stat.To get the highest chance of success I would (and did) go privately in London.

Mark

Reply

You may also like...