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Vagus nerve damage after ablation procedure
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Vagus nerve damage after ablation procedure

After a catheter ablation procedure in October 2011, to cure AF, I have been left with a higher resting heart rate of 90bpm, coupled with an incredible constant 'buzzing' sensation across my chest and arms.  I can also wake up at night with a resting heart rate around 118bpm, sweating and slightly shaking.  My cardiologist believes it is due to the Vagus nerve being damaged during the procedure.  Apparently this is a very rare occurance and although he suspects the damage to be transient and the nerve should repair itself, he can not be sure.
I feel that because my resting heartbeat is between the 'normal' threshold of 60-100bpm, they perceive me as being ok, however I really can't take this sensation anymore.  They tried me on beta-blockers but they caused an irregular heartbeat, they then put me on Ivabradine, however I was conscientious of palpitations.
I am having trouble finding anyone in the same situation.  I would like to know if the Vagus nerve has actually healed itself after being damaged or bruised during surgery.  Also can anyone recommend any vitamins or herbal treatment to help ease the nervous sensation.
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995271_tn?1408549100
I can give you an example of how well nerves can heal themselves.  My father had a heart transplant back in 1988.  All the nerves into the heart are cut (obviously).  Because the donor heart doesn't receive any signal at all the heart reverts to its own internal pacing rate which is about 100 bpm.    In some heart transplant patients the nerves actually grow into the donor heart!  This is called innervation.  This happened with my father, as his resting heart rate is now in the 60-70 range.    When he first got the transplant it was 100-110

Though this is not related to your case at all, it may provide some comfort to know that a case even worse than yours can heal itself.  I could certainly see the possibility that some vagal nerves heading to the sinus node would get stunned from an ablation in the atrium, I'd bet they will heal up in 6 months to a year.

For supplements I would recommend you look into magnesium.  In particular the types of magnesium that are bound to amino acids such as Mag Taurate, Mag Glycinate, or malate.   Mag Oxide is cheap but not very absorbable, the magnesium / oxygen bond is very strong, only about 10% of it is absorbed from what I've read. research it more.  
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1807132_tn?1318747197
I haven't had the same issues as you.  I had avnrt ablated in Sept.  My resting rate is always high, it was before and after the ablation but I don't wake up with sweats, shaking or buzzing.   Did your cardiologist do an ekg on you while you were experiencing the symptoms?  If these symptoms persist I might ask for a monitor just to make sure something else isn't going on.  As for the vagus nerve, I have issues with it in relation to my stomach.  I have to watch what I eat doesn't cause too much gas or the nerve will get aggravated and send signals to my heart causing it to act up.  So maybe try a few antacids and see if it helps calm things down for you a bit.  Also keep in mind, they do say with any ablation it can take up to 6 months for your heart to fully heal.  So hopefully with a little time your symptoms will calm down.  I do have to say starting any meds there is an adjustment period.  If you stopped them before your body had a chance to adjust you may have found that the issues would have worked themselves out but my cardiologists weren't big advocates of meds anyways in someone with an otherwise healthy heart.  So I guess my best advice to you is to keep a journal of your symptoms and if they continue go back to your cardiologist and ask for a monitor just to see what is going on.  Take care, I hope you feel better soon.  Keep us posted on how you are doing.
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2018059_tn?1328523079
Hi Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to reply.  I haven't been on here before and I'm finding a lot of useful information.  My cardiologist has not monitored me since the ablation in October.  I went back for a consultation in December and they explained that they believe it is damage to the Vagus nerve.  He said he wants to see me again in 6 months to see if it heals.  Thanks for making me aware that it might take 6 months for the heart to fully heal, I wasn't aware of that.  I am not so hot on the idea of taking medication especially as I have a low tollerance for meds.  Had an awful time on beta-blockers and Warfarin.  Thanks again for the advice, I will start a journal today.
I hope you are feeling well today.
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1807132_tn?1318747197
I am doing pretty good.  Thanks for asking.  I still have issues with pvcs and pacs some days worse than others but they aren't too much of an issue.  The doc said they will continue but I should eventually stop feeling them.  Not sure if that will happen or not.  Others on here have noticed theirs for years but overall the ablation was probably the best thing I could have done for my heart.  I am no longer having some of the more troubling symptoms like flutters and some chest pain since I had my heart fixed so I think my heart is in the best shape it has ever been.  That said, my ablation for avnrt was a much easier fix than yours for afib.  I only had 5 burns where you likely had way more than that to isolate the errant cells so my healing would likely be faster and easier than yours.  Hang in there.  I am sure if there are anymore issues that still need to be addressed you can get them taken care of but my fingers are crossed all will calm down for you as well.   Talk to you later.  I am always around if you need to talk.
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995271_tn?1408549100
I can give you an example of how well nerves can heal themselves.  My father had a heart transplant back in 1988.  All the nerves into the heart are cut (obviously).  Because the donor heart doesn't receive any signal at all the heart reverts to its own internal pacing rate which is about 100 bpm.    In some heart transplant patients the nerves actually grow into the donor heart!  This is called innervation.  This happened with my father, as his resting heart rate is now in the 60-70 range.    When he first got the transplant it was 100-110

Though this is not related to your case at all, it may provide some comfort to know that a case even worse than yours can heal itself.  I could certainly see the possibility that some vagal nerves heading to the sinus node would get stunned from an ablation in the atrium, I'd bet they will heal up in 6 months to a year.

For supplements I would recommend you look into magnesium.  In particular the types of magnesium that are bound to amino acids such as Mag Taurate, Mag Glycinate, or malate.   Mag Oxide is cheap but not very absorbable, the magnesium / oxygen bond is very strong, only about 10% of it is absorbed from what I've read. research it more.  
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2018059_tn?1328523079
Many thanks itdood, that has definately made me feel more positive.  I would be interested to know how long it took for your father's heartbeat to return to a normal range?  Was it suddenly?  That must have been a fantastic feeling for him.  You are quite right, a far more serious operation than my Afib 'cure' so your story gives me real hope.  I will try Magnesium.
I can't thank you enough for taking the time to reply.  I have just read your reply out loud to my wife, it has really given us hope.
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995271_tn?1408549100
Hi Michael,  we didn't know enough to track that with my father at the time.  It didn't bother him at all though.  I think he was just so amazed not be be in congestive heart failure anymore.

I just recently (the last 5 years or so) started asking him detailed questions.  This is when I found out about his pulse rate. It floored me.  My father's reaction was "what's the big deal??".

My father also reported that when he initially had the transplant he never felt any PVCs or PACs.  It wasn't until after the nerves grew back that he started noticing some PVCs here and there, nothing to complain about though.  Makes me wonder...

It's an interesting case study to better understand the electrical activity in the heart.

I'm sorry I can't give you a time frame.  If you'd like to read more try googling this:   "Murphy D A, Thompson G W, et al (2000), The heart reinnervates after transplantation. Annals of Thoracic Surgery"  without the quotes.  

That study mentioned something about 14 months but that's reinnervation that is happening on a very broad / macro scale.  For an ablation one would think it's isolated issues that should heal faster.  It's no fun being a trailblazer!

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2018059_tn?1328523079
It's no fun at all! Maybe your father wasn't so concerned about the pulse rate as he had a new heart and that was the main thing!  Sounds as though he took everything in his stride.  I am the type of person who needs to know the 'ins' and 'outs' of everything and understand everything that is happening fully, especially in this case of doctors not giving clear answers!
I have learnt more here than at the hospital!
Thanks again for your time and information, it's really appreciated.
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612551_tn?1247839157
I read most of the AFib posts as I have permanent AFib.  As I've said many times, my rest to low activity symptoms are none-existent.  I fell the AFib only if I put on a stethoscope and listen to my HR, then I hear a slight irregularity - a slightly elevated resting HR of about 85.   Before AFib I was in the low 60s.  

What I read here gives me some comfort in that my cardiologist and EP will not consider doing an ablation on my heart - I haven't tried other doctors.  They say the risk is too high given my minor symptoms and tolerance to medications (I have side effects, of course, but again nothing to complain about - especially considering my age).  

I suppose the fact that a mini-maze procedure on my left atrim when I underwent valve repair didn't stop my AFib aslo suggests there must be many unwanted paths that would have to be opened.

Sounds like the advice you got is all positive, wish you the best and a fast(er) recovery to normal HR.
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2018059_tn?1328523079
Jerry, I was collapsing about 2 or 3 times a year for the past 15 years or so. Totally blacking out when I got out of bed, then when I came round my heart was doing 185bpm irregular.  Really irratic and frightening.  Returning to around 60bpm regular over night.  Bizarrely, my cardiologists did not start me on any drugs as they explained that they wouldn't want to see someone my age (36) on drugs for the rest of their life when an 'easy' and 'straight-forward' operation could be performed to rectify the Proxy Afib.
If your symptoms are minor then maybe it is something you can live with.  The last time I collapsed, my wife found me having a fit, my head had smashed on a toilet and hard tiled floor, blood rushing out of my head.  She didn't want to go through that again and the risk of stroke was explained to me.  
I could only go with what I was advised.  My cardiologist, Dr Andrew Grace, Papworth hospital, Cambridge, England, explained that it was a fairly routine operation and that he did around 100 such operations each year.  Unfortunately for me I am one of only three that have been left with my symptoms.  I just have to wait now.  Hopefully the nerve will repair itself and my symptoms will disappear too.
I would suggest that maybe your doctors are happy for you to remain on meds.  Don't put yourself through an unnecessary procedure and do be comforted by my story because I would not want anyone to go through this!
Thanks for your wishes and take care of yourself.

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2060547_tn?1330756246
I'm so glad to hear your story, Im 33 and had an ablation done last May. although i felt better instantly, i've also experienced weird events affecting speach, walking, and fatigue. One Dr tried to state that maybe i was depressed, but I don't buy that answer!
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1807132_tn?1318747197
What kind of speech problems if you don't mind my asking?  Did this all start just after the ablation or have you had these symptoms before? I haven't heard this with heart issues so you may want to think about seeing a neurologist to make sure there aren't any issue with your brain.  
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