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Ablation for a-fib
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Ablation for a-fib

Hi, all!  I love this site.  It has been really helpful to me in dealing with atrial fibrillation.  Here's my history:  I am a 29 year-old female with a structurally-normal heart; normal weight, no diabetes, no other health problems.  I have had a-fib since I was 17.  The episodes come and go, and I've been taking digoxin and disopyramide for years.  I was going to have an ablation done in 1998, but when I went in for the EP study, they could not induce a-fib so they didn't ablate.  Fast forward to now, and my new cardiologist said he could isolate my pulmonary veins since I can't tolerate the medicine anymore.  

I've scheduled the procedure for January 29th, and in the meantime I am terrified!  I am worried about having a stroke or something, or ending up with stenosis (which I know is not common, but not uncommon, either).  I am also worried about having to inject myself with Lovenox, and the side effects of Coumadin.  Anyone else out there my age who has had this procedure?  What was it like?  Were the blood thinners and after-effects horrific?  Did you continue to experiene a-fib in the months following or did it go away right after the procedure?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Avatar_f_tn
HI... I am 43 years old and have had a-fib for about 5 years now.  I either cannot tolerate or find that all the medications I've tried have been unsuccessful.  I have been told for about 2 years that the only thing left for me is the pulmonary vein isolation ablation (PVI).  I was beyond anxious about the procedure.  I just had the procedure less than a week ago.  I had it on January 11th of this year.  The procedure itself was nothing like I thought... it really was easy because of the drugs... fentynal and versed.  And, the nursing staff was wonderful about keeping me educated so I felt more in control.  I was actually in my ablation for an exceptionally long period of time 7-8 hours.  But, they had a problem with the mapping so it took a little longer than expected.  I had very little pain afterwards, although I still had a lot of anxiety about what I was feeling - palpitations, etc....

I was in normal sinus when I came out of the ablation and then flipped back into afib within 24 hours.  the doc is assuring me that this is normal and that I won't know the full affects of the ablation for at least 1-3 months from now.  I can't say that is easy to deal with the rhythm, but I'm trying to be patient.  

If I could give you some advice... just make sure that your physician is very specific about what to expect after the procedure and what could happen rhythm wise afterwards.  Then you are prepared.  

I don't feel great yet, but I'm maintaining optimism... and I'm sure you will do very well.  

Oh, I took my ipod with me and had downloaded music that was very relaxing... this helped in the preop holding area.  They even let me keep the music in the operating room.  It really helped.  

Good Luck!
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290624_tn?1202332475
Thanks, Jan1130!  Can I ask you if you were in a-fib constantly before the procedure, or did you just have episodes on and off?  Mine are on and off.  My doctor said I might have more a-fib during the first few months after the procedure, along with heart palpitations.  I'm wondering if people who have chronic a-fib tend to have this more after the procedure than those who have paroxysmal?  Knowing my luck, probably not.  I'll end up in a-fib during my entire recovery!  

Can I also ask where you had yours done?  I'm having mine done at Wisconsin Heart.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi. I'm certainly not your age - I'm 61 - but that means my body would be less resilient for a procedure and my healing would not rebound as well as yours. I had my PVI ablation Dec. 13. I do have more a-fib following the procedure than i had before. It's becoming a bit more erratic now, not as cyclical as it was. This is not uncommon as i am told.
The apprehension prior to the procedure was worse than the procedure itself, for me. I too took music in with me and asked lots of questions ahead of time in order to be prepared.
The Lovenox injections were also the most unpleasant part of it. I was fortunate to have the volunteer services of a nurse acquaintance in my community who gave me the injections. A tip about Lovenox injections: If the delivery of fluid from the syringe is done extremely slowly, it can be painless and will not bruise.
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Avatar_f_tn
I too have paroxymal a-fib.  My a-fib is definitely more erratic than it was before.  I have started having pauses as well which make me feel very light headed.  I had my procedure in Kansas City.  I love my physician and feel that everything that is happening is what he said I might feel, its just so hard not to feel frustrated about it.  I want to be done with this part of my life... zstudio, are your physicians still saying that you are on track and not to be too disappointed yet?  Are you symptomatic?  I can tell the second I'm having a strange rhythm... sometimes I feel the physicians don't believe I am that aware, but I am.  
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290624_tn?1202332475
So, it sounds like a lot of people have more a-fib afterward.  I think the ultimate question is, do you regret having the procedure?  I just don't want to be in for a big letdown.  I had an EP study done in '98 and they were going to ablate then, but they didn't because I didn't go into a-fib during the procedure.  Now, since the techniques are more refined, my new doctor thinks there's a better shot of getting it.  I'm just afraid I'll have the procedure done, and then I'll just have lots of a-fib with no improvement and be back on the drugs again.  The thing is, the drugs work ok (I only get short episodes here and there) but I can't stand the side effects.  I keep debating now whether I should do this or not...
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Avatar_f_tn
I don't think I can answer that question yet.  I'm only one week post procedure so I know its way to early for me to even know how I feel about it in general.  I know I'm frustrated, but I also think I just thought it would be better immediately, even though I had heard the words explaining that it might not be for some time.  I wasn't prepared for it to feel worse, but again, the physicians are explaining that this is very normal as the pathways have been interrupted, which all in all is a good thing.../ so, I think only time will tell... and from what I read in this community, everyone responds differently.  I would just make sure you are with the best of the best... you research their success rates, etc... and feel confident yourself going in.  
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290624_tn?1202332475
Thanks for the info and help, zstudio & Jan1130.  I'll definitely keep the Lovenox tip in mind when I'm giving myself the injections.  :)  I think what I'm really worried about is getting chronic a-fib from the procedure since I've been without any prolonged events for so long.  I think I need to try this procedure, though, or I will always be curious about what my life could be like if I didn't have anxiety over a-fib all the time.  

I know a lot of people would probably call me crazy for taking a risk to cure such a "benign" arrhythmia, but to me it is not ok to live with such restrictions when I am so young!  I've been off of caffeine and alcohol since I was 17 (the alcohol part wasn't a problem since I didn't drink in high school anyway, but my 21st birthday sure did suck!), and I never take cold or flu medicines when I'm sick because of what they do to my heart.  I can't run sometimes when I'm having lots of palpitations, and I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night during episodes.  The medicine I'm taking makes me tired, it's difficult to pee, my vision has blurred somewhat and I'm constantly worried that my q-t interval is too long because of the antiarrhythmic.  It stinks! I've had enough, and I want it to be out of my life, but what if absolutely nothing changes and it only gets worse??  Sorry for the rant.  I'm just feeling really resentful right now about my situation.  :(
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Avatar_f_tn
Boy, do I understand where you are coming from.... it is refreshing to hear that other people feel the same way I do.  I too felt exactly the same way you did about not wanting this to consume my life any more.  I was finally willing to risk whatever to get the relief I so desperately wanted.  I am scared I will be in chronic a-fib now, but again, I work very hard at staying positive.  You can rant any time you'd like.  I too am alcohol, caffeine free now - which sucks, loved both so much.  But, I do also know that I want to be arrhythmic free more than I want them.  Chin up!!!
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