Hi - As most people on this forum, I've been through a lot of arrhythmia trials and tribulations, starting when I first developed and sought help for PVCs. After medication that wasn't particularly effective, I had an ablation for the PVCs which my doctor said was a safe, highly successful procedure. The PVCs were cured, but I then began to have a-fib. I was put on flecainide and metoprolol but the flecainide caused me to develop atrial flutter - more specifically, SVT, and several scary trips to the ER and hospitalization (and cardioversion). I'm now off the flecainide, and the metoprolol was increased to 100 mg/day. I'm already having some unpleasant side effects (very tired, aching sore legs at night, and yes, flatulence - which is just wonderful). My doctor wants me to hang in there with the metoprolol for the next month or so as he wants to be conservative with me and the meds I'm on. We have touched on the possibility of another ablation - but this time of the atrium. He is very up front with me about the risk factor - which is a 1% chance of stroke during/right after the procedure. I am very healthy other than the a-fib, and my heart is very strong as well. I thought this might diminish the risk factor, but there is still that 1% chance of stroke. As a matter of fact, those who have other underlying health issues (hypertension, diabetes, etc) have a far worse chance of stroke or complications - like 3-5%. I know I'm not there yet and who knows, I may never be if the meds work well, but I'm very interested to hear from anyone who has had this kind of ablation. Are you now a-fib free? I'm 52, which is still considered young in this arena. I have a lot of life ahead of me and am not sure that I could ever bring myself to take the risk of something catastrophic happening during an atrial ablation. Being a-fib free and having no restrictions would be wonderful, but could I justify an ablation with only a 75% cure rate and high risk of complication? Has anyone undergone this and actually had a stroke as a result? Please share any atrial ablation stories - I'm so anxious to hear your story!
I had considered seeking an ablation for my AFib, but both my cardiologist and the EP I worked with, said my AFib isn't causing severe enough symptoms for me to take the risk, and further, my life expectancy based on current studies says I do not improve it by getting back into NSR. Said another way, more positive, my life expectancy is just as good if I just medicate for "rate control" and take an anticoagulant. An important part of this argument is the risks associated are too high in my case. In fact the numbers you quote are not much better than what I was looking at when I underwent open heart surgery to repair my mitral valve, and to have a maze procedure. The valve repair worked, the maze didn't, I was in NSR following surgery and for about 30 days, then back to AFib. I may try stronger medications in the future.
I understand the ablation for AFib is th highest (or one of ??) risk type of ablation because it requires making a hole between the right (side the catheter enters from the artery) and left atrium to give the ablation catheter access to the left atrium, the source area of AFib.
I think the 100 mg Metoprolol I take a day is the source of some of my lack of physical energy, but not so much to confine me to the chair. I just don't do well anymore climbing hills on a hike, or riding a bike at good clip for many miles... which I could do a couple of years back when I was in NSR. That is the reason I have been trying to regain NSR as I fell fine most of the time.
I am one of the success stories. I had an ablation for a-fib and flutter in January 08. About 2 weeks after the procedure I had 2 episodes of a-fib, but nothing since. It took me over 2 years to decide to have this procedure. When my a-fib become way to symptomatic where I was passing out due to a very rapid a-fib and had failed all the meds I knew it was time to do something. My only regret was that I waited so long to have it done. I researched this procedure and consulted with many of the top doctors across the country before I made my decision. I would not hesitate to do this again (hopefully I won't have to). This ablation gave me my life back. I am feeling 100% better .
I am a 65 year old male and was ablated December 07. All went well until the drive home--250 miles from the hospital. I felt entirely well and stopped for lunch an hour an a half after leaving the hospital. I passed out in the restaurant and got a very expensive ambulance ride to the local small town emergency room and then back to the big city hospital. I was fearing something major might have gone wrong, but the diagnosis was only dehydration. I spent one more night in the hospital for observation, and sent home. I was given amiodarone during the healing period and had to discontinue within six weeks due to negative side effects. Since then, all has been great. I am physically active, lost 25 pounds, and would do again in a heart beat (pun intended) I feel like the Johnny Appleseed of ablation and spread the word every where I go.
Great to hear that your ablation turned out so well. Are you now medication free? Do you still have restrictions, like no alcohol or caffeine? Also, how did you feel going into the procedure? Knowing what I know, I can't imagine not being scared to death.
Thanks for sharing/commenting and congrats on your successful ablation. I'm envious!
The heck with the ablation - how did you lose the 25 lbs!! ...Just kidding. I'm very glad to hear that it not only worked out for you, but that you'd do it again. Thank goodness you got through that experience after you left the hospital - I can't imagine what must have been going through your head. Also - the fact that you came from such a long distance away to have your ablation, adds credence to what my cousin from NY told me. He suffers from persistent a-fib and in his search for an arrhythmia specialist, he has found that arrhythmia doctors are a small club. I have a fantastic doctor in Boston - I don't think I could find anyone better. And lucky me, I just happen to live only 20 minutes from the city. I wish you continued good health!
Your reference to the hole that has to be made for the catheter to pass through the atria is probably the biggest thing that freaks me out about this procedure. ...I think that this is a procedure that I could only consider if the point ever comes when I have fewer good days than bad ones.
Thanks for the good information - lots of food for thought. Stay well.
Yes I was scared to death of the procedure. That was why it took me two years to have it. For six months after the ablation I was on Sotalol, Cardizem and Coumadin. Then I was taken off the Sotalol and put on Toprol 25mg twice a day (for 3 months) then Toprol 25mg once a day. As of today I am still on the Toprol, Cardizem and Coumadin. Next week I go back to Penn for a follow up with the EP that did the procedure and I will hopefully be taken off the Toprol and Cardizem. I was told that I would have to stay on the Coumadin for 6months after being off all heart meds for precauctionary reasons (I had a very rapid a-fib/flutter combo).
I had a right side ablation in January 07 when my a-fib became more than I could handle. I should say here that I've had some sort of heart issue (pac's, pvc's, svt's, and just plain old irregular heartbeats) since the age of 29. I'll be 68 in November. (Hope this doesn't discourage all the young people out there with these problems) :-) The a-fib didn't start until 1998. For 10 months after the ablation, all was well except for the very occasional missed beat. 'Then it all started again. I have to say that although the ablation helped tremendously, it did not cure. However, even my cardiologist says my symptoms are not frequent enough for him to do a left side ablation because of the increased risks. Sure wouldn't want to have a stroke, and afraid to take the chance. This week I've been dealing with pac's. SO annoying. You're aware of every heartbeat, and even after dealing with all these issues for so many years, I have to say it still concerns me every time it happens. Had a stress test and echo in May. All is good. My ejection fraction is 70% (excellent). So, bottom line, I guess I'll have these issues for the rest of my life. Dr. says that most of the time they get worse with age. Oh, joy. Y'all hang in there and try not to stress too much. Live each moment!
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