Heart Rhythm Community
Why can't I stop thinking about dying during ablation?
About This Community:

This patient support community is for discussions relating to heart rhythm issues, arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, implanted defibrillators, pacemakers, and tachycardia.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank Blank

Why can't I stop thinking about dying during ablation?

I am having my ablation in 2 weeks. I read that appromimatly 0.1-0.3% of people die during the procedure. Is that alot compared to the chances of my SVT's killing me.? Or compared to risks of other surgeries.. My doc says SVT is not life threatening, but more a quality of life issue. I guess what scares me is that I only have episodes every 3-4 weeks and the flutters sometimes so I am trying to weigh out what is right for me...I am so scared.
Related Discussions
15 Comments Post a Comment
Blank
549433_tn?1215459220
i just had ablation done for my svt last week,they ablated 2 pathways and it took 3 hours.all i can say is PLEASE request sedation.i was refused and i found the whole experience horrible,im sure if i had sedation i would be feeling like most other folks,some dont even remember much about the procedure.the risk of death is miniscule,it really is.
Blank
465516_tn?1302556928
I can not believe you did not get sedation. The doc did say that I would be very medicated, he said that some people even fall asleep. I doubt I will be one of those lucky people though, I can barly sleep at home, much less when I am having wires stuck up my groin.
How often did you have episodes, I feel like mine are infrequent. But my best friend is an ECHO tech for the cardio doing my surgery and he told her he was glad that I was having it done. So I guess he feels that an episode a month is enough to warrant having this done.
Blank
489725_tn?1280056153
hi
to be scared before any procedure to do with the heart is 100% natural .i had an ablation 12mths ago and i was scared like  u and alltough it can be a little uncomfortable the support and care in that kind of procedure is excellent and these guys ep's do not mess around and know what they are doing in any country.
u will find loads of people in here who have had ablation that have worked and feel much better and are off meds which is better if possible for your overall health in the long run.it would be silly of me not to say there is a risk with everything in life thats the balance of nature.but this procedure is performed day in day out and just in case u have that thought that something might go wrong u are in the right hands if it does.
i know for me it was the right deicison i too was getting attacks more and more frequently and the meds were starting to make me unwell.u will be sore for a few days after but most people recover quickely.over the next 2 weeks try and keep your mind focused on something else hard i know but it will come and it will go

did u discuss this with your loved ones
i wish every success if u do go ahead and u WILL be ok
iam sure there will be  plenty more jump in here to give u support

let us know how u get on
Blank
549433_tn?1215459220
i have had svt for 12 years on and off but over the last two years i needed to go on betablockers after my worst attack which lasted 11 hours where i ended up in ER.i so dont want to scare you and i agree,if it cures svt the procedure is worth it,just make sure you are sedated.
Blank
187666_tn?1331176945
I'm glad to hear you'll be sedated. Honestly, the meds are so helpful you won't mind anything at all. I've had 3 ablations. The first one is always the worst because it's all an unknown. My husband worried about me dying and I joked and said, "well, if I'm going to go, at least I'll be asleep and won't know about it." Of course I didn't die, didn't even come close. The next 2 times I went in I wasn't any more nervous than going to the dentist. Well, that does make me nervous but nothing like the first ablation.

I do understand your fears but when it's all over, you'll be happy you did it. Just plan on taking it easy for a couple of days since you'll feel a bit tired and sore in the groin area. Not bad but definitely tender. I wore boxers for a few days to avoid any pressure there. Take care and let us know how it goes.
Blank
86819_tn?1378951092
This is a difficult question. There is a definite incentive to take a risk, but death or other complications are possible. You don't want to be paralyzed by risk, but you don't want to take unnecessary or bad risks either.  Some ideas:

For some conditions, the medical consensus is that it is better to use drug therapy than to ablate. But, some doctors will ablate if the patient has quality of life issues and is "willing to accept the risk with it". Problem is: most people dont know much about this very complex topic, and can not forsee or imagine all possible outcomes and do not know the statistics associated with lessor complications, although most understand death.

How were the statistics generated? Complication rates vary widely depending on exactly what type of ablation is done, site of ablation, hospital, doctor, etc. Perhaps some of the more serious statistics came from people who had unusual problems.

With this in mind, you could think about this and make some decisions about what you would ablate and what you would not ablate when/if the doctor goes in.  There are also several ways to access different regions of the heart: familiarize your-self with transaortic, transceptal approaches, as well as entry points such as femoral, subclavian, and jugular. You also need to know what AVNRT is and what heart block is.

You might want to keep in mind what you can do to minimize your exposure to unnecessary risk:  seek a second opinion about this and choose a doctor that you can count on to optimize your chances for success.

You are not in a life threatening situation, so what is to keep you from postponing this long enough for you to study this?  I realize a number like 0.3% seems small, but I think that rolling the dice with a serious outcome warrants a considerable due care on your part (i.e. study this, seek a second opinion, talk to family, take your time....)  

Good luck with whatever you ultimately decide. I am sorry if I seem like a pessimist about this.  This is probably a good procedure. I just think you should give yourself some time.
Blank
110220_tn?1309310461
It is very common to wonder about dying or something horrible happening while having an ablation.  I had a ablation in Feb of this year and it was the best thing that I have done in a long time.  It gave me my life back.  SVT is so unpredictible and the quality of my life suffered for over 2 years.  The ER visits, cost, beta blockers, and stress is now gone.  

It isn't as bad as it sounds and they sedate you so most don't remember a thing about the procedure.  Give it some thought, I know that SVT scared the hell out of me and while I was told that I wouldn't die from it, I always  wondered what if the adenosine didn't work (sometimes they had to administer two pushes before my heart would resume a normal beat) what would happen to me....also where would I be when the next episode happened, on a plane, somewhere where I couldn't get to the hospital.  Good riddens to those thoughts.

Best Wishes to you!
Rose
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Hi.

I cant tell you not to be scared because that is easier said than done. When I was schedueld for my ablation all I could think about was "what if" I too did not have much sedation. They told me they were giving me something but I was awake through the whole procedure. In fact, when they were mapping they triggered the a-fib and had to knock me out and cardiovert me back into sinus rythm. At that point I remembner telling the nurse coach "please don't let me die" When I woke up 20 mins later, they finished the ablation. It took total almost 4 hours. I didn;t feel anything when they were inserting the catheters, but I did know when they were at the heart moving around. When the doc was ready to ablate...they told me to keep very still. I felt like a warm sensation through my chest up to my neck.  To tell you the truth the worst for me was having to lie down flat for 6 hrs after the procedure.

I am going through another round of tests and they may suggest ablation again. But right now I am on meds. If they gave me a good chance of curing me with the abalation, I would probably do it again.

Take care....and let us know how it goes.

You will be fine!!

Blank
255722_tn?1333378910
Know what???  My husband had to have his tonsils out last year...he was afraid he wouldn't come back out of the OR either.  

I'm not comparing the very serious ablation procedure with a tonsilectomy, but I am trying to say that it is 100% normal to be afraid when looking toward ANY medical procedure that includes sedation and/or surgery.  There is ALWAYS a risk.  

The questions you are asking yourself are good ones.  Is it worth the risk to go through with this, and is the risk small enough that I'm okay with it?  Don't let fear paralyze you.  Speak with your doctor about your concerns and make your final decision with faith that it is the right one for you.

This anxiety is completely normal......but none of us can bear the burden for you, we can only offer our support.

Take care,
April
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
     I was feeling very brave about my ablation.  The closer I got to the actual day, my bravado increasingly got weaker.  Laying in the hospital waiting to be taken in for the procedure, I asked myself, "Now what have you gotten yourself into?"  Then after playing a few "what if" games, I shifted gears and decided to regard my ablation as just another of life's great adventures.  Then I felt better.  
     That was a year and a half ago.  Now, I couldn't be more pleased with the result and the quality of my life.  
     The message from me and all the others is that your feelings are entirely normal.  We all go through it.   If the fatality rate is .01%, that means one in a thousand might die during this procedure.  That also means 999 don't.  Those who do have problems most often are very high risk going into it.  Your risks are likely about as close to zero as you can get since apparently you do not have major complicating issues.
     Enjoy your next adventure.  I think you will find it will all be worthwhile.  
  
Blank
280299_tn?1216859276
I have had SVT for the last 20 years and still haven't had the ablation yet. I only get 1 or 2 episodes a year. I have not had caffeine for a year now and so far have had no episodes. It was suggested that I get the procedure but I think until the SVT gets worse (if) I'm going to hold off. I am usually very positive and strong but I have to admit that I too would be very scared to have the proceedure, it's only natural.

If I was getting episodes a couple of times a month I would definatly have the ablation.

Hope this helps...
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
My EP said that the statistics on ablation mortality are somewhat inflated.  He has done several hundred and never had anyone expire.  I trust my EP implicitly.  If you do not trust yours with your life you need to consider a change in EPs.

My EP uses what is called "conscious sedation" during ablation.  I may not have been officially under general anesthesia during the 4 1/2 hours of my (ultimately unsuccessful) ablation but I don't remember anything.  Shortly after they told me they were beginning the sedation I did a "fade to black" and came to in my room with a sandbag on my legs.  I did not have any of the usual emetic after effects of general anesthesia and for that I was supremely grateful.

Fear is natural.  Only morons feel no fear.  Courage is the ability to keep your fear from stopping you from doing what needs to be done.  I certainly felt a good bit of trepidation before the procedure.  It would have been worse if I had had to have a second full ablation including the TEEC (trans-esophogeal echo cardiogram).  The meds to prepare me for the TEEC made me very sick to my stomach and made me cough so they had to hit me with a good does of versed to get me quiet.  I like versed.  Versed is my friend.  ;-)

Hang in there.  You have a ventricular rhythm issue.  Ablation is very effective for those problems.  My problem was atrial - a-fib specifically.  The best odds on ablation fixing a-fib are 3 to 2.  On the 2nd ablation it's a tossup.  It didn't work on me and so 12 days after my ablation I had my AV node ablated (took less time to do it than to prepare me for the proceedure) and a pulse generator installed.  I'm still in a-fib - likely will be till I die - but my ventricular beat is regular as clockwork.  Bleeding well OUGHT to be regular as clockwork or I'll sue the makers of the mocrocomputer in my chest.  ;-)

Hang in.  Keep us posted.  We're all in this together.  Heart problems attack the very core of our physical being.  Many languages talk about getting to the "heart of the matter".  No one who has not experienced their heart acting oddly can understand.  Everyone here has had that experience.  We KNOW what you are going through.  

Warm regards and good wishes,
Bionic Bill
Blank
21064_tn?1309312333
You are definitely not alone!!  As many of the others have said, it is perfectly normal to be afraid, stressed and scared outta your mind.  However, as Bionic Bill said, it is courage that will pull you up.  If you are someone with faith, that helps too : )

Hey, versed is my friend too!  The guy that came up with that stuff deserves a special place in Heaven!!  

Bill, not sure if this was the case with you, but when I had a TEE, I was given versed and demerol....not good.  The versed was great; the demerol ended up making me sick to my stomach...UGH!!  The nurse said in the future I should ask for fentynl instead of demerol (for pain relief during invasive procedures).  I followed her suggestion and had a number of procedures with the fentynl....no problem, no nausea!!  What a difference!

Hang in there sheila770; We're right here to help you through your anxiety.  Any time you need to talk, vent, share, ask, whatever....we'll do our best to allay your fears.

Connie
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I myself am going in for a 2nd opinion next week. I am so tired of having SVT. I have had it for almost 10 years and just recently they have got really bad......  I am really scared to about having Ablation done because they way things go for me I would be the 1 out 1000. Hope all goes well for you.
Blank
1423357_tn?1373023915
If you've hung out at all on the Heart Rhythm forum, you know there are a large number of members who have undergone the electrophysiology procedure with ablation, either cryo or RF.  I think all of us have the same thoughts and a small number of individuals haven't been able to get beyond that thought even after scheduling a date.  When it was suggested to me after messing with drug therapy as well as just plain old "dealing with it" without meds as I had done for nearly 50 years, I jumpped at the idea.  To be honest, at 59 I was ready to get that mill stone off from around my neck.  I interviewed several electrophysiologists, and selected one who sedated nearly all of his patients.  He said it offered the ultimate comfort not only to the patient but to him as he didn't want to deal with problems associated with patient discomfort.  I was hit with a Vallium injection just before I was wheeled away from the short stay cbue.  I vaguely remember the vision of the lab, scooting onto the table and having my arms propped up for comfort.  The next thing I remember, I was waking up in the recovery room to "thumbs up" from my physicians.  .  There are risks assiociated with it, but they are working taking.  If you are a healthy individual and are not currently suffering from a serious cardiac ailment, the risks factor is pushed even lower.  I encourage you to investigate this procedure and ask questions of forum members.  For me, it has renewed my life.
Blank
Post a Comment
To
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
612551_tn?1247839157
Blank
Jerry_NJ
NJ
1423357_tn?1373023915
Blank
tom_h
Central, MA
1807132_tn?1318747197
Blank
michellepetkus
Chicago, IL
1124887_tn?1313758491
Blank
is_something_wrong
Oslo, Norway
86819_tn?1378951092
Blank
Bromley
257552_tn?1404606154
Blank
Artaud
Pittsburgh, PA
MedHelp Health Answers
Recent Activity
1236893_tn?1394988190
Blank
Keep Clear of Pistachios
7 hrs ago by gymdandee
9575646_tn?1404842308
Blank
Moonbard is sleep deprived Comment
Jul 08
5194006_tn?1380823487
Blank
KylieRMs_momma I had my tonsil surgery on ... Comment
Jul 06
Heart Rhythm Community Resources
RSS Expert Activity
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eating: What Your Closet ...
2 hrs ago by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
This is Driving Your Emotional Eati...
Jul 02 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
5856747_tn?1403352282
Blank
Sleep Apnoea
Jun 28 by Andrew John Rynne, MDBlank
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
612551_tn?1247839157
Blank
Jerry_NJ
NJ
1423357_tn?1373023915
Blank
tom_h
Central, MA
1807132_tn?1318747197
Blank
michellepetkus
Chicago, IL
1124887_tn?1313758491
Blank
is_something_wrong
Oslo, Norway
86819_tn?1378951092
Blank
Bromley
257552_tn?1404606154
Blank
Artaud
Pittsburgh, PA