Healthy Heart

Everything You Need to Know About Ablations

Everything You Need to Know About Ablations

Ablations are a non-medicinal and non-surgical method used to correct irregularities of the heart performance. Electrodes causing regular heart beat difficulties are eradicated through different ablation methods.

These irregular heartbeats begin either in the mid-section or upper section of the heart. Although there are medications used to correct these heart defects, at times they are not effective. If the heart does not respond to the medication and does not perform effectively, different types of ablations can be conducted depending on where the irregularity of the heartbeat originates.

How to conduct radiofrequency ablation

An electrode is directed to the heart to scar the part of the section of the heart that cause the heartbeat defects. The electrodes kill the small part of the section or a small piece of the heart muscle that is causing the irregularities.

How effective and safe is this procedure?

Ablations are generally safe and cause little pain during operation. Over 91% of patients have undergone a successful ablation. Most of the patients have also recovered from an ablation just days after the operation. Generally, most patients undergo this process while awake and/or on local anesthetic. Your ablation professional will advise and take you through the steps of the ablation procedure before the operation.


What is a trans-catheter ablation?

This is a way of conducting an ablation by passing electrodes via a blood vessel into the heart directed to the heart section that needs ablation. This method is new and has quickly gained popularity among patients. When an electro-physiologic examination is done, the electrode is introduced into the blood vessel intended to target the electro-cattery in the section of the heart.

This whole process is known as trans-catheter ablation.

A Catheter ablation

This is a way of killing a little tissue or part of the section of the heart that is causing heartbeat irregularities. When the part of the section is killed, your heart will probably return to normal. Radio-frequency energy is used in this operation and it is known as  aradio-frequency ablation.


Facts about ablations

  • When your heart gets resistant to medication, or when medication cause side effects to your general body health, a catheter ablation is conducted to correct irregularities of your heart beat.
  • When you use medication, you only reduce or control heart beat irregularities. When you use a catheter ablation operation, you kill the part of the heart that causes the irregularities of the heartbeat.
  • Most of the patients who take the catheter ablation operation are cured of heartbeat irregularities with a high of up to 91 percent successful operations.
  • The catheter ablation procedure lasts for around 4 hours. It is done in a special laboratory in the hospital known as acCath-lab or the electro-physiology section of the hospital.


Why people undergo the catheter ablation

There are cells in your heart responsible for the production of electric signals that give the heart chambers a regular and frequent movement. When these cells produce extraordinary signals, your heart beat becomes irregular; either the heat beats too fast or too slow. When the heart beat is irregular, you may be weak; you may faint in the process or even be short of breath. Your heart may not work as it is supposed to.

For most people, their preference is medication. which mostly is just as effective. For some people, medication doesn’t work well for them. Some people may have allergies, other conditions, or are at very big risk of experiencing other complications due to the side effects of the medication. Such people are always advised to take the catheter ablation operation. The operation always kills a part of the heart without interfering with its functions and without killing the whole heart.

Risks associated with catheter ablation operation

There are a few risks associated with this operation.The most common risk is bleeding caused by the insertion of operation tubes to your blood vessels. You also risk damaging your blood vessels. In very rare occasions, the blood vessels may develop infections.

How to get ready for catheter ablation

  • In case you are currently under medication, your catheter ablation professional may ask you to discontinue it anf, you must make known to them your current health conditions for them to advise you accordingly.
  • Typically, you will be asked not to eat anything a few hours prior to the operation, usually around 8 hours.
  • A day prior to the operation, your catheter ablation professional will guide you on what to eat and what not to.
  • You are expected to arrange for someone to take you home after the operation.


The procedure

A catheter ablation professional and a team will prepare you accordingly for the operation. The team should be specially trained to conduct catheter ablations.

  • A catheter ablation nurse places you in the right posture and position for the operation.
  • An intravenous line is drawn through you blood vessels and local anesthesia introduced to it to counter the pain. Catheter ablations are conducted when you are awake.
  •  The catheter ablation nurse will then disinfect the part of your body your catheter ablation professional will work on.
  • The catheter ablation professional will make an incision into your blood vessel and then insert a straw into it. At this point you should be numb to pain. A long catheter is then inserted into the straw. This whole process is screened for you to see.
  • The catheter ablation professional introduces electrodes routinely into the sheath. The electrodes are rhythmically sent to a section of your heart.
  • The catheter ablation professional may use electric signal or electric impulse feedback to locate the part of the heart that is causing your heart to beat irregularily.
  • Once located, the professional directs the catheter to the exact position of the irregularity and introduces a radio-frequency to the part. This is painless and goes almost unnoticed.
  • When a catheter ablation is started late or when there are several parts of your heart causing irregularities of your heartbeat, you may take longer than 4 hours in the hospital or even be asked to stay overnight.


What to expect after catheter ablation operation

Typically, you will be moved from the cath-lab. You will be laid flat. The sheath will be left in you for some time. Immediately when the sheath is removed, expect:

  • The catheter ablation nurse to try stopping the bleeding by dressing the incisions.
  • To stay flat on the bed until the professional or the nurse asks you to leave. Do not try to stand before they do so, as you are supposed to keep your legs straight until they ask you.
  • To be examined to check see if the heartbeat irregularities continue.
  • To be observant of any discomfort. Please inform the professional if so before they release you from hospital. They find it normal for you to have some level of discomfort.
  • To be given written prescriptions and advice on how to handle yourself at home. You are expected to follow these instructions carefully to aid in your quick recovery.
  • In the prescription, you will be prescribed some pain killers and blood thinners.


What to expect after you get home

You should follow the written instructions you were given by your catheter ablation professional and the nurse. Normally they will ask you to:

  • Not to take any alcoholic substance for around two days after the surgery.
  • Not to involve in any strenuous work until you catheter ablation professional is comfortable with it
  • Not to drive or operate any machine for at least two days after the surgery
  • Lie flat in the event you experience bleeding from the incisions again; in such a case they will ask you to have them alerted


You need to call your catheter ablation professional immediately in case:

  • The part of your leg with the incisions turn colors or starts bleeding excessively
  • The part with the incision opens up
  • You have difficulties when breathing
  • You feel faint and tired
  • You have stomach pains and you sweat excessively

Key Takeaways

  • There are a few risks associated with ablation surgery
  • A catheter ablation professional and a team prepare you accordingly for the operation
  • You should follow the written instructions you were given by your catheter ablation professional and the nurse