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AF Association
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Ablation Questions

What’s the recovery time like? Days? Weeks?

In general is it preferable to taking medication for several years?

I was thinking I would try taking meds for 10 years until my kids are older and then trying the ablation because of the “rare” possibility of death from the procedure.

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If your quality of life is OK with meds then keep taking the tablets.

If not ablation is so rarely fatal it really is worth the risk. I have had 7. Now in NSR.

Pete

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Hi

You're generally advised to take it very easy for a couple of weeks after the procedure and it can take many months to know whether it has been successful. There are no guarantees and many people undergo several procedures.

Most people who undergo the procedure have no regrets and would do it again. Most consider it to be pain free procedure. It is not surgery. It is very low risk but it would be wrong to say it is risk-free. The risk of serious complications is incredibly low but it is emphasised to protect the hospital and staff. Taking medication long-term is not risk-free. Many drugs prescribed for heart conditions have potentially serious side effects. The justification for having an ablation is to provide a better quality of life and better long-term outcome than just taking medication.

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It is definitely a personal choice to either remain on anti arrhythmia drugs or to have an ablation. I have had 3. 1 in 2009 and 2 this year. The first this year I thought would be my last however my case had become more complex and I needed to find a different doctor for the third.

One thing to consider is that the anti arrhythmia drugs aren’t going to stop the progression of the arrhythmia. And the possibility that the meds will stop working for you at some point is very likely. So to wait could mean a more comprehensive procedure opposed to one that could possibly be simpler now.

The other thing to consider is that you will be 10 years older. I waited a over 10 years to have my first ablation. I was only in my 20’s when first diagnosed, I had no need for meds and the procedure was still relatively new so to have an ablation at that point made no sense. However, In 2009 it was either ablation or drugs and My cardiologist and had already decided long before that that I would have an ablation if ever came the time for one.

The other two were easy decisions to make. Except for the fact I probably waited a few years too long to have the second. My afib burden from 2009 to 2018 was pretty minor. A few episodes a year post 2015 and most of those self converted. But as time progressed I started needing flecanide to convert me but still only a couple times a year. Then in December of 2018 my afib came on full tilt and the flecanide quit working. Even using it on a regular basis would not keep me in rhythm for very long.

I’m not trying to convince you of what to do but I hope this helps you in making your decision either way

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I hated the drugs as to me they were far higher risk than the small risks of ablation. Turns out that for me - they were and I suffer the consequences. I had 2 ablations which worked to an extent but they aren’t a cure and I still have AF episodes but I can tolerate them as I self convert. I am retired with no commitments other than self determine ones and the episodes are now much, much less symptomatic than before ablations.

My only regret was not going for ablation in the earlier stages.

Everyone’s circumstances are different and only you can decide and know what is best for you. Best wishes.

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Hello CDreamer can I ask what the consequences of the drugs are? I struggle with the drugs really badly and am interested in your story. I have reduced mine considerably but BP is too high so I get nagged all the time and I can't take any beta blockers or anti arythmia drugs for the AF. Thanks Sue

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Hi Sue - I have a neuro-muscular disease which is exacerbated by heart drugs. I’ve never had high BP, always low but Beta-Blockers especially I was taking as rate control made me really ill.

I feel MUCH better without the drugs, my BP has risen now to acceptable levels so I don’t get as tired - 108/68 at the clinic yesterday - I still have AF episodes but none for a few weeks as everything else is stable. Probably won’t stay that way for long but I enjoy as and when I can.

Everyone is slightly different & hypotension is more of a worry for you but there are other meds & lifestyle methods which help reduce BP.

Best wishes

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Oh dear that sounds grim but I'm glad you are stable at the moment, long may it continue. Thanks for the reply. Take care Sue

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Gon to AF Association website and under patient information there is a fact sheet about recovery from ablation which you may find useful. There is also a pinned post here which if you follow it will lead you to that fact sheet.

I would add to the above that any and all treatment for AF is only about improving quality of life (QOL) BUT, stopping AF early by ablation has the best outcome in most cases as it is generally a progressive condition..

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I was first diagnosed in 1992 but the Ablation process was not as successfull as it is now. I have had 9 CV and 3 ablations but I do have a Multiconditions that are not helping each other. If I could have another Ablation, I am sure I would as over the years I have had to change my tablets many times still have AF!

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With the low risk of ablation complications I personally prefer to be off the drugs which I should be soon.

My ablation was 6 months ago and my daughter is 2. I did have some concerns about what if it went wrong as I'm the main breadwinner and have to life or other insurance cover but that was balanced by knowing how useless I was when in AF, not being able to help my wife or play with my daughter.

Recovery for me was not an issue, did a few short walks after 1 day of laying on the sofa. After 2 weeks I did a short and easy bike ride, pretty much normal activity after a month. Started cycling full on after 3 months.

We have a second child due in November, I'm very happy that I chose to have the ablation.

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When first diagnosed I was told by my EP that if I was going to choose ablation at some point then the earlier, the better. I decided to go ahead and had my one and only ablation in November 2013. Recovery was pretty easy but it took 5 months for all bumps and odd beats to go away. Since then, no AF and I have my life back.

It is a difficult decision so good luck on your journey 🍀

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It is 3 years since I was diagnosed with AF. First 20 months was solved with o my a non Inrusive drugs regime on 120mg verapamil. After 22 months and 11 ish attacks the Af developed worse and I had to be cardiovered on flecainide infusion and then put on 2 x 50mg flecainide rhythm control, and 200 mg diltiazem. This was a lot more intrusive, little exercise tolerance, brain fog, that gets worse and tiredness.

I at this point I started looking for am ablation. I was assessed this and has a pvi cryo ablation in Jan 29rh 2018. Left atria. Apparently succesful but I developed atrial flutter in the right atria 9 days later which was very symptomatic., very breathless on any movement. I had a SECOND ABLATION on 26th February And finally came off the meds on may 15th. Still off them. I wished I had looked for an ablation earlier as I may have avoided most of an unpleasant 9 months. I believe that " AF begets AF" the more you have it he more you will get it. So far ( still early days) the af is stopped. I would have another ablation this afternoon to keep off the drugs and keep AF away.

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