I have noticed that after a successful ablation, most “cured” sufferers disappear from the forum because they no longer need the support. This can gives a false impression of the effectiveness of treatment. It is now a year since my ablation and I thought I would come back to give you my full story.
In early 2015, I was a 53-year-old club cyclist, quite fit and athletic but my performance levels had reduced from the previous couple of years. At first, I thought I was starting to feel my age. This gradually got worse throughout the year, until I became convinced there was something medically wrong with me.
I was diagnosed with probable AF in February 2016, which was confirmed shortly afterwards when it became persistent. I continued in decline through the year, worsened by my bisoprolol prescription. A cardioversion in October helped and I had an amazing recovery, but only for two to three weeks before going back into AF.
In 2017 I had a hybrid ablation; a mini-maze in April and an RF catheter ablation in October. The first stage isolated the pulmonary veins, the ligament of Marshall, and blocked off the Left Atrial Appendage. The second stage did a CTI line for flutter, completed the box lesion set on the rear atrial wall and repaired a connection breakthrough on two pulmonary veins. Within three days I was feeling much better, after six weeks I was completely off medications.
I have been largely AF-free since a few weeks after the first ablation; with one work stress related episode in May 2017 and one alcohol related blip on New Year’s Day. My Kardia showed many ectopics throughout the year; on average there was one or two per thirty second trace. Until my AF became persistent, I don’t believe I had ever had an ectopic beat, and I took my pulse very regularly.
My Kardia decided I was having a few episodes of “Possible AF” episodes in April 2018 and again a couple in early May 2018, but the traces looked fairly normal to me. In late May, I took print-outs of my dodgy readings to my 6-monthly review; my cardiologist confirmed they were not AF and nothing to worry about.
Through the summer of 2018, I had a few noisy or chaotic Kardia readings, but never for long and not accompanied by any symptoms. The ectopics have continued but I have grown to be able to ignore them.
In August, I went to the USA on holiday, and drank excessively; 20 units in a week, (before AF, I would have considered this level to be quite restrained). This did not appear to have any effect, but one day I had several coffees and was rewarded with a bout of some sort of arrhythmia, which was called “unclassified” by the Kardia. Abstinence brought things back to normal very quickly.
I know AF is all about management of “quality of life” and there is no cure, but I think I am now as close as I could be. I managed to hold back from excessive exercise for months after the two procedures; I am not sure if this was really required but it did not seem worth the risk at the time. I walked and cycled throughout my recovery and have now started to cycle out in the hills with the club again. I am still being cautious; I am taking it steady with the social group rather than my previous racing buddies, but I am enjoying it. I still weigh two or three Kg more than I should (at 79.5Kg. my BMI is 25.1), but I was 84Kg around this time last year.
I know everyone is different, but I would say that you should not be apprehensive about ablation. If one is offered, I would go for it, sooner rather than later; AF is a progressive condition and I am convinced early ablation helps.
The picture is from a couple of weeks ago in the grounds of Hardwick Hall