Should I get cryo ablation?: 33 years old... - AF Association

AF Association

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Should I get cryo ablation?


33 years old. Afib for a year. Afib controlled by meds but still get ectopics and feel discomfort occasionally. Saw a electrophysiologist and he suggested cryo. I’m scared because it sounds pretty involved, stay over night in hospital.

Has anyone here gotten it done and regretted it? Made Afib worse? My alternative is taking meds for the rest of my life.

13 Replies

I am 70. I’ve had two ablations. The first, 5 years ago, worked fairly well for 4 years. The second failed. I suspect my permanent AF/AFL will be harder to manage in the long term because of the ablations.

If I could wind the clock back, I would set out to learn everything I could about AF, and concentrate on making lasting lifestyle changes, before considering this essentially destructive procedure with unpredictable long term consequences.

I would also look for an opinion from an experienced cardiologist rather than an electrophysiologist in the first instance. The former is likely to be more cautious.

Hello I am 28 and I had a cryoblation on the 31st October this year. It’s the hardest thing I’ve been through and was really uncomfortable but 100% best thing I did.

Recovery is taking some time for me but I was having AF every other day for hours and this has massively reduced since the cryoblation. My EP was amazing and did a brilliant job during the ablation.

I didn’t want to carry on living with these regular attacks so made the jump and honestly I’d do it again.

There’s a 30% chance it hasn’t worked and will come back so still early days for me but so far so good.

It’s a difficult one because everyone has different stories and experiences so it has to be your decision.

I’m still getting back on my feet and have had a lot of problems since the procedure but I’m definitely turning a corner.

Hope this helps :-)

Being young you need to think hard about taking potent medication for the rest of your life. I agree with Oyster about dealing with lifestyle issues. Generally, but not always, AF is a condition which effects the older generation however, younger patients involved in extreme sports or who perhaps have made some less good lifestyle choices can do a lot to improve their condition. It is therefore important that they do everything they can to improve their lifestyle before embarking on intrusive treatment plans. I also understand Oyster’s point about talking to a cardiologist. Although I was in my late 60’s, I too was apprehensive about having an ablation and I was concerned that talking to specialists who “do” ablations may be a biased in their opinions. However, in my case, it was a Cardiologist who was known for his cautious attitude towards ablation who suggested I should have a cryoablation and he referred me to an EP. Even though I needed a second 2.75 years later, I have absolutely no regrets. It is also suggested that sooner is better because the heart has had less chance to be changed by the AF. Read up as much as you can and consider how few people say they regret having an ablation bearing in mind how many thousands are carried out in this country alone.....good luck.

It's personal choice at the end of the day, but we do know that AF gets worse with age/time

I know that I would take the ablation and be off the heavy meds for as long as possible.

The procedure is not really uncomfortable and you do get over it very quickly. Sure there are risks, and you need to work out if you are willing to take them.

but I know that I would

This is the most difficult decision. I did have an ablation in November 2013 and although it took 5 months for arrhythmias to settle down, once they did, no more AF. It may come back but it is great to have my life back.

My main reason was that I did not want to be on powerful meds for many years and my EP thought that if I was going to opt for ablation then the earlier the better. He thought that it had a better chance of success if done at an early stage. Anyway, it worked for me and if I was your age I would seriously consider it.

Good luck with decision making as this is the hardest part.

My answer is YES. I had mine in April 2018 and feel better thank I have in years. I don't know how long it will last but I wouldn't hesitate to have another if necessary. I was not in overnight, I had a sedation in the morning and was out by 4pm. I only remember some very loud hard thumping in my chest and heard myself call out "what the .... is that" then I remember nothing. You have to lie still for a few hours after the op to allow the entry point in your groin to settle. I had 2 tiny marks where the catheter was inserted in my groin and absolutely no problems. After this procedure I was fine for 2 weeks, I did nothing but gently walk around and go outside for short 15min walks. In the second week I did have a few bouts of palpatations and a run of Afib for around 12 hours before it stopped. I have had the odd ectopic beat hear and there but no lethargy, breathlessness, weakness, cold hands and feet, weight gain, etc. etc. Good luck and don't worry.

I would want to get more info from the EP. Is he strongly urging the procedure on you or just saying it’s something to be considered? Did he give a timescale? If the meds are controlling the AF adequately then there would not *seem* to be a reason for an ablation at the moment. Also, given that it’s not that usual to get Afib at your age, are there any lifestyle issues which are driving it?

If the AF is controlled with meds then I would not rush into an ablation. Techniques are improving all the time and the longer you can delay it the better. However if the AF gets over 50% then get it done as it is more difficult to treat when it's persistent/permanent.

Hi. I'm 62 and had a PVI cryo-ablation on Aug. 21, 2018 (some 17 weeks ago). The procedure went extremely well, and I've been completely AF-free since. Prior to the procedure I was experiencing highly symptomatic 12-18 hour AF episodes about every 10 days over a period of about 2 years; it was horrible. I was 'officially' diagnosed with PAF about 11 years ago, although in those early days the AF episodes were much shorter in duration and far less frequent. Over time PAF usually gets worse, despite the meds taken to keep it in check.

The cryo-ablation procedure (from prep to recovery room) took about 2.5 hours, and overall was relatively easy for me to endure. For the procedure I was placed under general anesthetic, which is standard practice here in Canada for cardiac ablations.

My QoL has improved immeasurably since the ablation. Should it ever become necessary I would not hesitate at all to have another ablation.

Best wishes,


I had my pvi cryo ablation on the 29th January 2018 for a fib. I was 57 years old. My afib was only diagnosed in sept 2015 and i was on verapamil 120mg initially, no real issue with that drug, but after 20 months and a dozen attacks of little significance ( I was asymptomatic other than the high hr), the afib progressed and in July 2017 I had an attack that would not stop and for most of 8 days I was in afib at a resting HR of 130 to 190 bpm. This was eventually cardioverted by iv flecainide infusion in the CCU of my local hospital. I was then put on 2x50mg flecainide daily as rhythm control and 1 x 200mg diltiazem daily as rate control. I was not happy on this drug regime which was intrusive on my life, having exercise intolerance, brain fog, and tiredness, that appeared to be getting worse the longer I took the drugs. I think mostly caused by the diltiazem.

The afib ceased during the ablation procedure and has never returned. I did however develop high re-entrant rate atrial flutter 9 days after the ablation and may have been promoted by the flecainide, or may have been a follow on from a problem caused by the afib. I had a SECOND ABLATION (simpler safer procedure in the right atria) for this 26th February and the flutter stopped during the procedure and has never returned.

Both the ablations were done under mild sedation and I watched the screen during the first. I saw the induced afib stop. The groin was a local anaesthetuc and I never felt anything there. Neither of the ablations were particularly painful, the cryo ablation is just like biting into a very cold ice cream, the pain is brain freeze in your head. The rf flutter ablation was a bit more painful, the pain being felt in the right shoulder. I have had worse pain at the dentist than either ablation.

I have been off all drugs since May 15th. No more tiredness , brain fog or exercise Intolerance. Brilliant!

If afib returned tomorrow morning I would happily have another ablation tomorrow afternoon to keep off the drugs.

MikeyF in reply to KMRobbo

Where did you get your two procedures done please KMR?

KMRobbo in reply to MikeyF

Royal Stoke University Hospital.



As you'll probably read, everyone reacts differently. I had a cryoablation done when I was 53 with no problems. I was in the hosptial overnight, went home the next day, and was able to walk a mile the day after that. I had it done on a Thursday and was back at work on Monday. It definately improved my AFIB though I did have various ectopic heart beats for a few months afterwards. My EP told me that ablation used to be the second opton for AFIB after drug therapy but it is almost at the point where it is the first option tried, especially for younger patients.

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