Still utterly exhausted after ablation - AF Association

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Still utterly exhausted after ablation


I posted 4 weeks ago about my post ablation exhaustion, and had some very encouraging replies. But now this much further down the line (7weeks post op) I am very disappointed how little progress I seem to have made. Just come back from holiday where I was able to swim (using the word very loosley) gently to help my energy levels a bit but really did little else, but I think I have been improving very slowly. However after the flight home yesterday I woke up this morning feeling I was back to square one, almost unable to crawl up the stairs, and really depressed about the whole thing! So hoping for a few words of encouragement. Not due to see my surgeon until the week after next and suspect he will just tell me I have to be patient and things will resolve themselves, but having been a very active dance teacher all my life I find this extremely hard, and in the lower moments convinced that something is going wrong. My heart thumps and bangs, especially when I first sit up in the mornings, but I don't think it is the AF, although I am very conscious of my heart most of the day. Any words of comfort would be much appreciated.

17 Replies

Basically Yes be patient. As we say in our guide to recovery it takes three to six months for the heart to recover and many people are still seeing improvements at nine months or more. Just because you do not have a giant zip up your chest doesn't mean that your heart hasn't had some serious trauma. Few people seem to understand just how long it takes.

in reply to BobD

Totally agree Bob. I’m 5 weeks post ablation and struggling with breathlessness but learning to listen to my body and be kind to myself.

in reply to BobD

BobD you have been very reassuring since I joined this group about 2 weeks ago. Thank you... I do feel the same way most times as costumedancer01. So i guess patience is key...

I really feel like doctors undersell ablation recovery. I am about 4 months along and I am just starting to get some energy back. I still get short bursts of palpitations, especially in this summer heat, and some ongoing chest pain. I have had every cardiac test there is, including a catheterization-angiogram and a nuclear stress test, and the doctors keep telling me my heart is absolutely fine. I really find forums like this useful to get the straight story from others who have been through it. So give yourself some time, let your body guide you, and remember that everyone's recovery is different.

in reply to Bshersey

Probably isn't the case but get your consultant to check for Tietze syndrome. I suffered chest pain for several years until diagnosed and a simple lidocaine injection eliminated it entirely.

I took me around 6 months to get back to normal post ablation. At 9 months I can now row 10km on my rowing machine at a steady heart rate of 130 bpm, but it has taken a while to get there. I still feel tired climbing stairs in the house but not out walking so I guess thats just age and lack of warmup! The main thing for me is not having AFib events - they used to be twice a week. Progress rate is individual - if you are worried its not happening then keep a diary - walking is probably the best exercise to monitor. But if your AFib has stayed away then that's success!

in reply to Kevin51

ps stay hydrated in the heatwave

I am very much like you, in that I want things to improve straight away and when it doesn't U lose heart and get very down. You pin so much hope on these things, that when it does not go to your plan it can be very upsetting. Give it time are the best words of wisdom. Keep the faith and when you are feeling rubbish, come on here and see all the people that have gone through similar stories and are managing their situation. Keep smiling.

I might be wrong but as far as I can work out you are under three months since your ablation so why were you even on a plane ? Your travel insurance would surely have been invalid, and for a very good reason. Flying is not a natural event and puts a massive strain on the body, especially due to the low oxygen levels and high pollutant levels inside a plane at altitude.

Sorry if this doesn't seem sympathetic but hopefully it will make others realise they have to treat their hearts with the utmost respect for at least six months post ablation so that it can heal properly. Even then I would recommend they stick to short-haul, never long-haul, as the heart is never going to be perfect again - not that it was before the ablation of course which is why the procedure was needed in the first place. If work related, get a change of responsibilities (or job) so you don't have to fly to the USA or other far destinations, whilst nobody needs to go to Florida, Turkey or wherever for a holiday. Ablation is not a cure for AF, just a way of making life bearable again. But by being careful it does work well - I'm three and a half years post mine and feel I have my life back after losing over a year of it. I limit myself to one two hour return flight a year to Switzerland and have discovered the Scottish Highlands are well worth returning to each year and are easily reachable by train.

Now please just stay at home and do light exercise for the next six months and give your heart a second chance to heal.

Hi mike Thanks for your reply, and I’m really pleased you are now fit and well - a situation I hope to be in on the not too distant future. I flew out to my holiday home in menorca ( less than 2 hours flight away) for a months convalescence with full permission and blessing of my surgeon. Certainly wouldn’t have even considered it otherwise. I think there are very differing opinions amongst the professionals about so many things so we lesser mortals can only go along with the advice we are given. Today however I feel a lot better - a days rest and encouraging words, as always, from other ‘post ablationers, and fingers crossed I will continue to get back on track

I had my ablation 8 weeks ago and like you after 4 weeks was very disappointed with how tired I felt, both mentally and physically. I was on 10 mg Bisoprolol and given was in NSR and my BP and HR were solidly normal I decided to reduce the Bisoprolol to 7.5mg. I must say now I feel much less tired,can walk a couple of miles and don't need asleep during the day like I did previously.

I plan to try reducing it to 5mg soon. At the moment my HR is 70 up from mid 60's which may well be the heat.

So if you are on Bisprolol that might possibly be the cause of your tiredness..

Thank you for replying - I’m not on any other drugs apart from apixiban which I have been on for years. Just off for an ecg this afternoon to see if all is as it should be

It has been 15 months since my ablation and only recently am I able to participate again. Still need naps that last hours. It was the diverticulitis I ended up having (again) as a result of slowing down my heart. Costumedance, be at peace taking baby steps. When your energy rebounds enjoy it. I now accept the need to nap if I can have day like yesterday when I had a half hour stretch followed by an hour massage and lunch out. Slow dance during recovery.

costumedancer01? do you have your energy back now? I am struggling with no energy, some anxiety, and dizziness since I woke up from my second ablation 6 weeks ago. looking for some reassurance that it will just take time and I am not stuck in this new me forever.

Hi wheels up

It’s so long since I was on this site so was surprised to hear from you. That is mainly because my heart is soo good I can hardly believe it. It had to have it shocked back into rhythm after a couple of months but since then it has really been behaving itself! I still have the odd day when I feel pretty exhausted but think I have to put that down to age I think. So keep the faith - it seems to take some of us a bit longer to feel the benefit so I hope that happens for you soon! Looking at your post again I should say that I did have anxiety attack’s but these have also gone now so I keep my fingers crossed for you

thank you very much for the reply , in most searches on discussion boards, I never find a later response from the poster on their final outcome.

my first ablation was about 5 years ago (at age 46) and I flew and attended a trade show within a week. walking in the snow 5 blocks in new york city to my hotel.

this time ( at age 52) I feel very week and also very dizzy constantly. and was scared something went wrong having these systems since I woke up from the GA. This gives me hope and more patients as i battle my dizziness. It appears the trans septum puncture ( right to left atrium) can have some of these complications..... i dont know....

thank you

Check to see if you have developed post surgery anemia. I had - my GP picked up that hemoglobin was down to 9. 12 is my normal. Now taking iron.

Anemia might be contributing to fatigue.

I’m 8 weeks post ablation. Slow going - but going. Enjoying my naps.

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