AF Association

Fatalities During Ablations?

I have a question about ablation. I ask because I am going to an EP on the 27th March to discuss the possibility. Question is, how many people have you known/heard of/been told of, who died during the procedure?

Apologies for asking such a "Debbie Downer" question, but I keep hearing stories, someone's dad, ex-boss's wife, etc., not to mention books like "Collateral Damage" that paint a bleak picture of fatality rates for the procedure.

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I have never heard of any, but before you agree to any procedure your EP will give you all the relevant stats for adverse outcomes. Hearsay is often out of date as techniques are improving constantly. I can't comment on the book except to say it seems to describe one person's experience and was printed in 2010 so written before that!

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Thanks. I am still pro-ablation, but hearing certain accounts makes you falter somewhat!

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During my pre op the Arrhythmia nurse told me that no one in the UK has died during an ablation.

I don't know how accurate that is, but surely he wouldn't have said it if he wasn't pretty sure.

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Have no fear I have had 7 ablations and I am not communicating from the spirit world.

I doubt if you will get a specific answer to your question.

Pete

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Dunno afafaf. No one should consider an ablation without being absolutely sure it's right for them but I'm not sure that trying to find out how many didn't make it is going to be overly helpful, but each to his own.......

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probaly less than are killed crossing the road but that doesn't stop us!

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Not probably - definitely!

Estimated deaths on UK roads alone 2017 - circa 1700.

Pete

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Haha thanks everyone, all great points. Maybe the EPs aren't as good here in the US!!?!?

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Come and live in the UK!

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I come from there originally...not sure I'd like to go back to the old country at this point...

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Interesting point Afafaf. I had some email traffic with a leading UK EP about a different matter last year during which this question came up and his comment was that the controls on who did ablations in US were not as stringent as here in UK. More finance driven health care than here so maybe more in it for the money?

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None.

Complications and frequency listed below

bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-ma...

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Thanks oyster, will have a good look.

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Its all a question of risk-v- benefit and all procedures carry risks however small. I think rather than worry about the chance of dying during an Ablation consider the benefits of a successful Ablation compared to your present burden of AF. Good luck.

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I live in Australia have never heard of anyone dying but all things carry a risk

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No-one has come back to tell you that they have passed over during a procedure. it is question you have to ask your EP. The statistics are out there somewhere.

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The only one I've seen reported in the press was legendary Ten Years After guirarist, Alvin Lee back in 2013.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin...

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In 15 years precisely none.

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Looking at the stats (albeit from 2014), the mortality rate is 0.07%, that is for all mortality. If you look further, the actual risk of the procedure itself is lower still. The reason I know these figures? I had my ablation in September, and my wife is due hers in May, so I did the research! It’s always your own choice, but just going on quantified risk, there are FAR more dangerous things to do!!

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I am currently waiting for my 2nd ablation and the doc told me it's approx 1 in 500 plus 1% risk of stroke, they have to tell you these things but everything is life is a risk and I felt so well after the first one I'm certainly willing to take the risk!

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Between 1995 and 2006 32 deaths from nearly 33,000 procedures - see attached for reasons bjcardio.co.uk/2010/07/mort... - very low indeed.

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Thanks.

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I read up on that as well, I’m from Minnesota. My ep had no fatalities and said they are very rare these days as the procedure has dramatically improved over the past 10 years. He said the only fatalities he knew of were complications and age related more than procedure related.

Joe

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Thanks. I'm in Hartford, CT and there's a good cardiac hospital here.

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Just had flutter and A-fib ablations in Austin, TX a week ago. I asked about death stats, and they were roughly what has been cited above - very low - believe I was told less than 0.5%, but that includes patients who are very old, have significant other health issues, etc.

Do get an EP who does "high volume"....like all surgeries, the more frequently performed, typically better/more predictable the results. Was told downside/future complications are primarily procedure doesn't work to stop flutter or A-fib longer term.

Also, for certain ablations, but not ones I had, is a risk it "works to well" and produces too low a heart rate...that then requires a pacemaker to keep rate at desired level. Ask your EP, as this is not a meaningful risk for a lot of the procedures.

The risk is never 0 for any surgery or procedure, but I concluded there was probably more risk waiting and potentially having the situation get worse, which then lessens the chance of success of ablation, and requires continuation of RX's. Glad I got it done, although won't know for months if it "worked".

But it seemed like the right "risk vs. reward" decision for me. Would think the Cardiac hospital in Hartford would be very good, and do a very high volume of these procedures. So, sounds like you are in very good hands.

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Thanks Barabas, I will definitely get all the info off him when I see him, to be sure. A lot of pros and cons to weigh up.

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Yes, there is a lot to consider - spent well over a month considering options. I was only having short episodes, and went back into rhythm within hours with some light RX's...so was considering just skipping abalations for time being. However, they started occurring a little more frequently and lasting a little longer. While there was no rush, in consulting with not just my EP but a couple other cardiologists I know, all of them said that if the episodes started lasting days or weeks and that goes on for a while, the chance of the ablations being effective start falling off. Also play a lot of golf, and these episodes were starting to cut into that. So, I finally decided if the episodes kept increasing in frequency and duration, I just as well get ablations done now as otherwise would probably end up getting them later, but have less chance of success.

My wife and I both became comfortable it was the right path, although it does make one nervous regardless of how good the stats are, when someone is tinkering with your heart. Getting a good EP who does a lot of these, at a good hospital with the latest equipment, put our minds more at ease.

The recovery is amazingly quick...I had my procedure done on a Friday morning, was released from hospital Sat AM...and played 18 holes of golf the following Thursday. The first few days after was really tired due to anesthesia, sore throat from breathing apparatus, and some swelling around catheter entry points. But about 5 days out, started feeling quite good again.

Best wishes to you in evaluating all the options...sure things will work out!

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Wow that is a pretty fast recovery. I keep hearing that recovery is the most important part, so will be paying special attention to that if they agree to let me have an ablation.

I was having episodes for a couple of years almost regularly so hopefully my heart isn't too messed up by that.

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I may be rushing the recovery a bit...can't hurt to take it easy...but I have discussed with my EP and he thinks OK....they give you good guidance for individual situations. And I have reduced exercise levels from before procedure...want to work back up gradually.

Also, assuming you get an ablation, as other posts have indicated, don't be surprised/worried after if have "weird" sensations in chest, neck, etc...or even Fib or Flutter events. The procedures often cause these events for a few months, but then generally stop. I had one brief A-Fib event a day out of hospital, but it subsided quickly. EP increased dosage of one RX, and knock-on-wood nothing since for over a week.

Best wishes for a successful resolution, whichever route that may be!

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I'll definitely bear all that in mind and try not to worry, thank you.

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One thing I forgot to mention which is important, I feel great after the ablation. My heart was unsteady with lots of blips and flutter if not afib. 2 months in and almost all blips and flutter is gone and I’m almost med free. No regrets at all.

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When you say "almost" med free what does that mean? PIP?

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I’m still on a full dose of my blood thinner until after 3 months but I’ve cut back on my betablocker, with my doctors ok, to a 1/4 dose. I’m thinking I could probably quit taking thatvas well since my heart feels good.

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Great news. Please keep us posted as you progress.

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Aside from THAT book ("Collateral Damage") I've recently been told (in the past week):

A woman here at work says they accidentally punctured her dad's heart in two places, he flatlined on the table and they had to do open heart surgery to fix it there and then.

Dental hygienist told me her ex-boss's wife died during an ablation.

A friend's husband is a doctor (not a heart doctor) and has suffered from afib and other complications for years because he doesn't trust the procedure and outcome and says it's dangerous (maybe he's a coward?).

Also, a family friend, back in England, died during an angiogram back in the early 90s, which admittedly isn't exactly the same thing, and was a long time ago, and he was old and frail.

Maybe I've been letting the heebie-jeebies get to me. To be honest my quality of life isn't *that* bad, but it's the thought of being on meds and having a modified heart rate, etc., that's really pushing me.

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Im sure I read that a tonsillectomy and appendectomy carry greater risks!

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Seems hard to believe given the area of the body they're located, but could well be true.

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I know. The risk is related to severe bleeding and infection as a result of the operations. Particularly peritonitis.

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The vast majority of "complications" occur in hospitals that do less that 25 ablation per year. The best way to minimize risk on yourself is to check that your EP undertakes ablations on a regular basis (25-50 per year is considered the minimum). This info is based on scientific study. I was trying to find the link to the paper for you, but failed.

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Thanks for looking and I will use those numbers as a guide thanks.

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I have heard of one fatality during ablation though the person was frail and elderly and it was about 6 years ago.

I have had 3 ablations and you are told the risks beforehand.

It didn't put me off though but i didn't have the same EP doing mine .

im sure the fatalities are rare these days

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Thanks again all for your great responses. Very helpful, as one or two people were starting to get to me here!

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