AF Association
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Extreme tiredness post ablation

Hi, I'm new here and joined because my 86 year old mother had an ablation 4 days ago. She was suffering with AF for a good number of months and medication wasn't helping. Last May she had a new heart valve fitted. Her heart rate is now steady and her breathing is way better than it was. She also seems to have her appetite back. However, she is sleeping most of the day and night. She didn't get any discharge advice from the hospital so we're really not sure what to expect. I guess at her age things are going to take a lot longer to get over and it's still very early days, but I'm after some reassurance that this is normal. Thanks.

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Hi Gilliwigs, I'd love to meet your Mum, I'm sure you won't mind me saying that she sounds a "game 'ole bird" and she will be an inspiration to many!!

Any ablation procedure can be a bit of a shock to the system, even for someone half her age, so try not to worry. Tiredness post ablation is very common, especially if done under a general anaesthetic, so it will take a while before things settle. It is very important that she does little more than change channels on the remote for at least a week, and not much more for the second. Depending on how active she was before, given her age, I would wrap her in cotton wool for at least a month and then think about getting her back to work digging trenches!!

She sounds like a remarkable lady and she is lucky to have you looking out for her.......make sure she drinks as much water as possible and seriously no lifting for as long as possible. Please let us know how she gets on. It might be worth contacting the hospital and asking if there is an Arrythmia Nurse that you can contact should you have any concerns.....best of luck to both of you

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Ps. Others will mention I'm sure, that it can take 3 to 6 months for the scar tissue that helps prevent AF to heal,, so do not be overly surprised if she experiences runs of AF, ectopics or palpitations during this period.....John

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Thank you. That's reassuring. She has just woken up after a 4 hour sleep and seems pretty with it mentally so I'm pretty sure it's just the whole process and what has gone before over the last 8 months or so. We have the INR nurse here in the morning so could always ask her advice and she is also thinking of ringing our GP surgery to chat to the doctor who knows her pretty well after all this time! I do have to go home in a couple of days (I'm 3 hours drive away) but she has very good neighbours, one of whom is acting as her carer so I think she will be OK. My brother will also be around at the weekend.

She was pretty fit and active up until 18 months ago when she started having heart problems, in spite of many ops over her life. I'm not expecting her to get back to as she was but as long as she is able to enjoy life again, that's all that matters.

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Happy to help Gilliwigs.

Whilst it's good to have support from her GP and INR nurse, their knowledge of post ablation issues is likely to be significantly less than an Arrythmia Nurse. I would urge you to ask the question at the hospital in order that carer's can get advice quickly should it be needed.

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I agree totally with all that Flapjack has written.

Please do ring the hospital where she had her procedure and ask if there is an AF nurse attached to the consultant who performed her ablation. Please let us know how mum gets on.

Jean

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Gillywigs.Would you mind telling me where your mother had her ablation and who did it? I saw an EP recently and he said that ablation would be too risky and suggested pace and ablate which I don't want. I am 84 next month.

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Hi Stormcloud, mum is in Cardiff and had the procedure done at the UHW. I'll find out who the surgeon was and let you know.

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Gillywigs

First, it is extremely unusual for an 86 year old to have an ablation. Most EPs would not countenance doing it.

Second, however well she was before her ablation, this is another major assault on her heart in just seven months and it may well be many more months before she recovers fully.

Unless she has live in care for as long as it takes for her to become fully independent, I think there is a significant risk she will be back in hospital before too long.

You have to factor in that whilst she may be stable from a cardiac point of view now, that can change quickly. More likely though are the problems for anyone of her age in this situation, whether it is falling, confusion, keeping hydrated etc

In your position I would not consider going home until I was absolutely sure she was fine or at least well looked after. Reading between the lines, I sense you are (rightly) worried about her and that you were surprised she was discharged so soon, and feel there was an inadequate discharge plan.

I would be asking for an urgent home visit by the duty GP with a view to a referral to the local geriatric department for a domiciliary visit from the health visitor or consultant.

She is clearly an independent and determined woman. Unfortunately this will work against her. Unless she breaks the habit of a lifetime (I suspect), she will in her admirable way overdo things and risk the success of this highly invasive procedure.

I hope there has been adequate thought given to her discharge medication and ongoing medication, including anticoagulation.

It can not be overstated that complete rest is essential for her right now and possibly the next month or so. Otherwise the ablation may well fail. You should not rely on social services to support her adequately or at all.

I don't feel able to offer you any reassurance right now. Please do not interpret this as any sort of criticism of you. My comments are born of a deep concern about the poor level of care the NHS and Social Services offer to frail older people.

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I had my ablation in Cardiff and was given an arrhythmia nurse to phone with any concerns. She is fantastic and anything she is unsure of always asks the EP and gets back to me. I would contact her arrhythmia nurse if you have a number. If not , let me know and I can give you the contact number of mine. X

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She wasn't given any contact number to ring with problems at all. Her care while in the hospital was good but I'm not impressed by the care since she's left! It was a lot better after she'd had her valve replacement. Think we will get on to the GP tomorrow for starters.

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What a brave lady and lucky to have you. Listen to the people advising you to ring the hospital arrhythmia nurse for advice. GPS and INR nurses are good at some things but could easily send you down the wrong road as they are not experts in this. I would urge you to accept Dedeottie’s offer of a number to call.

I am 69 and had ablation 4 years ago which worked for me

Good luck 🍀

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Thanks. Mum is very much less tired today and not sleeping as much. I am in contact with Dedeottie now :)

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I wouldn't worry to much. An ablation will take it out of anyone no matter the age. I was 40 when I had my last one and all I wanted to do for the first few weeks was sleep. All other indicators are good though, breathing and apatite getting better.

Here's to your mum's continuing improvement. ❤️

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When I think back to how she was when I first saw her last Friday (2 days after the op) and how she is today there's been a massive improvement. I know it's going to take time but at the moment she's heading in the right direction x

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