Healthy Heart

What to Expect After Having an Ablation

What to Expect After Having an Ablation

Key Takeaways

  • When a person’s heart is beating and it is recorded by electro-cardiographs, it can be shown through an electro-gram
  • In some cases, the success and the failure of the catheter ablation operation can only be told after several studies for the next 3 months
  • It is normal in most cases to feel a racing heart, as well as skipped or increased heartbeats that are not constant for a few weeks into the recovery process

After the completion of your catheter ablation operation, the professionals will move you to a separate room while you wait for them to pull out the catheters. After a few hours, they will remove the catheters, and then they will apply pressure on the areas or around the incision to stop or control the bleeding. The nurses will disinfect the areas of incision and then dress them. Although you may go home on the same day, it will depend on the time the operation will start.

After removing the catheters, the doctor will apply pressure to the catheter insertion point to avoid bleeding. You may have to stay still for about six hours to avoid any bleeding, and you will probably be out at the time due to the anesthesia. You will be connected to a monitor that will display your heart rate, and you will most likely spend the night in the hospital.

It is normal to feel tired and worn out for a day or two after undergoing the procedure. Other side effects, such as chest discomfort and heart palpitations, are also normal, and they will go away with time.

Expect to be put under a dosage of anticoagulants, such as Coumadin (warfarin) or Pradaxa (dabigatran) for the next three to six months to stop blood from clotting. You will probably be advised to minimize bathing and swimming and avoid lifting heavy things for a while after the procedure. It will also take a while for your body to be fully fit to enable you to resume your daily activities.

The visits that follow the procedure will include a number of tests, such as:

  • Electro-cardiogram

When a person’s heart is beating and it is recorded by electro-cardiographs, it can be shown through an electro-gram.

  • Echo-cardiogram

This is the showing of the heart’s motions through waves of an ultrasound. Echo-cardiograms are used in the diagnosis of cardiac irregularities.

  • Trans-esophageal echo-cardiogram

A trans-esophageal echo-cardiogram is another way to conduct an echo-cardiogram. The probe is instead passed to the esophagus.

  • Computed tomography

Computed tomography (CT) is an imaging procedure that uses special x-ray equipment to create detailed pictures, or scans, of areas inside the body. It is also called computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CAT).

  • Holter Monitor Examination

This is a portable device that is run by a set of batteries. It records all the activities of your heart and monitors its performance for at least a day before the batteries run out.

There are several other tests that can be conducted on you. Be keen to attend them.

Studies on ablation recommend that you should always attend an examination every 6 months for at least 24 months after the ablation. These examinations should be recorded and taken on high professional level with event monitor gear on.

In some cases, the success and the failure of the catheter ablation operation can only be told after several studies for the next 3 months. This is because sometimes people experience AFibs or AFLs due to inflammation of the heart.

Even though most people will complain that their AFibs grow intolerable after a catheter ablation operation, this is actually inevitable because of the inflamed heart after the surgery. You should notice that the AFibs stop in time. This comes slowly as the body heals.

 

The types of HRS Consensus Statement issues:

In some cases, though, there might be repetition of AFs. In such cases, the repetition of ablation operation should not be rushed. This is because, in the first few months, most ablation patients (around 57%) have this experience. These patients, though, have a record of not experiencing further irregularities after that. Once the inflammations heal, this situation should naturally correct itself completely. In any case, if you are going to have another ablation, you should take at least 12 weeks from the first one.1

Being mentally aware that this might happen should make it easier for you if it does happen. You will get past it sooner or later if you stay focused on your recovery.

 

Discomfort

Until up to a day after the surgery, you will feel some pain. This is caused by the insertion of a probe during the operation. You will be advised and prescribed for pain killers before you leave the hospital. Apart from pain, you will feel tired.

 

The heart beat and rhythm

It is normal in most cases to feel a racing heart, as well as skipped or increased heartbeats that are not constant for a few weeks into the recovery process. You may also experience shortness of breath or fatigue, and sometimes it may appear that the unusual heart rhythm is back, but it becomes normal again.

Expect to experience most of these symptoms, and they should go away after four to six weeks after the procedure. It is, however, important to keep your doctor informed of any severe symptoms that tend to last for longer periods of time or when you feel like the abnormality in your heart rhythm is coming back.

 

Post operation medication

You may be prescribed medication to control your heart beat irregularities for the next 8 weeks.

In any case you were under other prescribed medication before the ablation operation (if you were asked to stop the medication), ask your ablation professional if you may continue with the dosage.

In case they ask you to continue or prescribe new medicine for you, you will be given detailed instructions on when and how to use them; ensure you follow those instructions carefully.

 

Taking care of the incision site

It is okay to take a shower in most cases, but the water should be of normal temperatures. It is, however, not recommended to swim, soak, or bathe in water for the first five days after the procedure or until the incision sites are completely healed.

Remember to keep the incision area dry and clean, and avoid scrubbing the area. It is not necessary to keep the area covered with a bandage at all times, as long as it is in good shape. Check the area on a daily basis, and avoid using lotions, ointments, or creams.

 

Activity

The activity guidelines below should be adhered to during the first week of the recovery process:

  • After the surgery, you should avoid lifting anything that is 3 kilograms or heavier.
  • You should not be involved in activities that require you to push or pull objects.
  • Do not wait until you get tired to stop doing something.
  • It is okay to go back to your daily routine after a week, depending on how you feel.
  • You can resume your work schedule a week after the operation, but you should check with your doctor on when it is safe to resume driving.

Telephone

Depending on your budget, you may be given a transmitter to connect to the hospital for your emergencies. You will be instructed on when and how to use it.

 

Follow-Up Appointments

You will be given a schedule of post operation appointments. Depending on how you react to the healing process, you will be scheduled and given reminder cards and notices. In case you are not given the appointments or any notices, you should at your own good will visit or call the hospital after a maximum of three weeks.