Catheter ablation is a procedure that uses radiofrequency heat (similar to microwave heat) to destroy abnormal heart tissue that causes irregular and rapid heartbeats known as cardiac arrhythmias.M
Your cardiologist will explain that cardiac arrhythmias can cause shortness of breath, weakness and fainting. These arrhythmias are a result of your heart’s failure to effectively pump blood. Medications for arrhythmias exist and work well for many people, but this only helps treat symptoms.
Catheter ablation is a low-risk procedure that is successful for up to 90% of patients. Your cardiologist will likely recommend it to treat supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial fibrillation and types of ventricular tachycardia.
Before a catheter ablation, your cardiologist will ask you to do the following things:
A catheter ablation is a specialist treatment conducted by your cardiologist. This cardiologist will have trained in electrophysiology. The procedure involves placing electrodes inside your heart through catheter lines. These will measure your heart’s electrical or rhythmic activity. The cardiologist applies a radiofrequency heat using the electrodes. This heat destroys the abnormal heart tissue that is causing abnormal electrical signals or rhythms.
Before the procedure, a mild sedative will allow you to relax. A nurse will clean the skin on your neck, arm or groin. Your cardiologist will cut a small opening in one of these areas, normally the groin, through which he will insert the catheter lines. Once the catheter is in place, your cardiologist will send electrodes to your heart to determine the source of abnormal heart rhythm and destroy it.
Your cardiologist will have a team of EP technicians and nurses to assist him in the procedure. During the ablation, this team will monitor your heart. Your procedure may take anywhere from 4 hours or more, depending on the severity of the problem.
You can resume with your normal activity one to two days after your catheter ablation, but avoid strenuous physical activity for up to one week. Some patients will need to take aspirin to prevent blood clots.
If you experience bleeding or swelling at the procedure site, or if you experience pain, call your doctor right away.