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1160404 tn?1262937802

Scared about Ablation

I am new here, but am looking for a place to turn.  I was recently diagnosed with SVT and PVCs (arrythmias).  The SVT became debilitating, ending me up in the ER.  Laying or sitting, my heart rate was 70 - upon standing up and taking a step, it jumped to 180...then the PVCs started.  
At any rate, the docs have me on Metropolol (controlling the SVT, but not the PVCs), so they are thinking about doing ablation.  
Holy crap!  WHAT??  A couple of weeks ago, I was a normal girl just living my life and now I have a diagnosed heart problem that they want to do surgery on?  
I am so scared.  Can someone out there share their experience with ablation?  Should I do it?
Thanks so much...
38 Responses
187666 tn?1331176945
I've had 3 ablations. The first was the absolute worst for me. Not because the procedure was bad but because I was scared to death. The description of what's done in there is enough to turn your hair gray. But it wasn't bad at all. I'd say just getting the IV put in was the worst part. The rest went well with all the happy drugs they gave me. I kept floating in and out of sleep and it didn't seem real to me at all. After I went home I was a bit tired, had some dull aches in my chest but not what I'd call pain and I had a couple of lovely bruises in the groin from the tiny incisions. That was it.

Most likely everything will go just fine for you too. And a couple months from now you'll wonder why you worried at all. You'll be feeling much better and will be able to do what you want without a racing heart.
1137980 tn?1281289046
Hi......do not panic....believe it or not you are still a normal girl......I completely understand the panic you are feeling and smiled to myself when i read your post because your words on the last paragraph almost mimic-ed mine word for word when i too found out what was going on w. me.  Sounds to me like you have a very wise doctor because it looks like they are offering you your life back as you knew it.  A lot of us also ended up in the E.R. w. almost identical symtoms as yours and alot of us chose ablations.  Metropolol is a great med for controlling the SVT's so you are def. heading in the right direction.  An ablation is probably not what you think it is in terms of "heart surgery"....it is a very simple procedure and like ireneo said when its all over you'll ask yourself like that country western song "what was i thinkin" that you didn't do it sooner.  I had mine done 3 years ago and my life changed back to the way it was before w. only a couple of little issues here and there but  everybodys diagnosis and body are different.  Nobodys going to cut open your chest, you won't be in the hospital for days and days, afterwards you won't be some sickly person.....you get the gift of being you again except this time w/out worry.  For myself my highest rate my heart doc said i went to tipped into the 300's and that is very very bad...they told me i needed an ablation right away, i was stubborn and wanted to research everything and almost blew it waiting too long and if i could go back i would have had it done the next day if i knew then what i know now.  Its a simple procedure they take a VERY thin wire type of catheter and thread it up thru one of your veins in the groin area (no more arteries) give you happy drugs so you don't remember a thing) and into the heart where the doc will map out the electrical activity pattern of your heart to see where you are misfiring or where your passageways magically decided to add a new one for you and then either zap it w. hot or cold to either close them or re direct them.  The longest time you'll have on the table its self is during the mapping where they have to sit there and watch which direction your heart is firing and stimulate it so that they can fix it and an average time of mapping is about 45 min. and then after they are done they'll re check it and then just slide the "wire" out and viola they are done.  In most times you'll go home within a couple of hours after its done.  That is the short version.  When you get out you'll have very few limitations except lifting for a couple of days and after mine was done my doctor told me to go to Starbucks and have a double shot of expresso (since i couldn't have any caffeine or stimulants prior to the ablation because it set it off) to prove to myself that i was no longer going to die as i convinced myself i was prior to having it done. Went back to the gym a couple of weeks later, and now i am one happy girl.  These are very successful procedures for many many people and if they don't catch it all the first round it could be years before they might and i mean might have to do it again for a tune up and catch anything that may not have shown up the first time.  Do your homework on this one.....ask your doc how many they've done, how many patients they've lost, when can you get your life back, will you still be on meds after....whtever has you worried ask...make sure you post here when you are done w. it so others will know how easy it was.....even better read Pams post from a couple of days ago on this site...great testimonial.  Good luck aqua and relax its easier to me than a root canal was it was just hard on me mentally only because of what i did to myself .......
1160404 tn?1262937802
Thank you both so much.  I can't tell you how grateful I am.  It really eases my mind to hear from some people like you who have had it done and are gracious enough to tell me your stories.  All I could find before were medical descriptions of the procedure - - - not very comforting.  
I will ask my doctor all the questions I have first and then just try to relax knowing that maybe, if it works, my life could be back to the way it was.  
You are angels.  THANK YOU.
Avatar universal
Also try and understand this is not "surgery" although years ago it was an actual open-heart surgery with a hospital stay of about `10 days or so. My daughter went through the actual surgery once and then went through about 4-5 cath ablations in the cath lab. Even as bad as her heart disease was (requiring a transplant at 22) she did well during her ablations. Good Luck
1160404 tn?1262937802
Thank you so much.  This has been so wonderfully supportive and informative for me.  Being able to interact with a community of people willing to just reach out and help is very cool.  Much appreciation!
Avatar universal
There are a lot of really good, caring people on here. keep us updated on how you are doing! :)
1160404 tn?1262937802
I will!  I have another appointment coming up, so I will let you know.  :)  
Avatar universal
My mother is having this done for a 2nd time, this coming Wednesday.  For whatever reason I think I am more stressed out over it than she is, even though she is the one having it done.

She asked the doctor to have it done again.  It worked well for her the first time, but her irregular heartbeat has come back some lately, so she wanted it done again.

Avatar universal
Hi aqua,

same for me here.  I have been getting a racing hear for 13 years since I was 14.  This past Sunday was the first time I was able to get it documented and diagnosed with SVT, and they have scheduled me for my procedure on Friday.  I am freaking out!!  I only get it twice a year, but they say it does get worse as you get older.  It is comforting to read the postings, but I too am very scared and nervous about the procedure.  I just try and think about after the procedure and how I won't have to worry about bending over everyday and thinking to myself , "is today the day that my heart is going to act up". I still am scared and I just want you to know your not alone.  

Good Luck!!!
1160404 tn?1262937802
Thanks Joe -
It sounds like you will have your procedure before I will - let me know how it goes??
Best Wishes!
Avatar universal
I too am scared of ablation however it has not been discussed with me (cardiologist doesn't for sure know if it's SVT yet) but it is best for me to research now I guess. It seems like ablation is the alternative to medication and only is successful for a certain amount of time? I have noticed a pattern in all these ablation posts and noticed that after a while people end up going back for more ablations. It has made me think of ablation as this; either take medication everyday or get an ablation done and be worry free for a while then end up going back for more ablation to be worry free for a period of time again.
Avatar universal
It is possible to have many ablations because sometimes the doctor can't find the extra pathway so he can't ablate it, or sometimes, the ablation is only partially successful. The extra pathway has to be electrically active on the day of the ablation or there can't be an ablation. They tend to not tell you that. We've been through 5-6 ablation with our daughter including an actual open heart surgery ablation when Houston was one of the only places in the world that was even doing the proceedure.
968809 tn?1288660510
I have only had an ep study but it was a very frightening experience for me. So much so that I absolutely dread the thought of going in for an ablation (although I need one and will get one when I can afford it). Maybe I am just a total wimp but being awake and feeling my heart flop around was awful. I could feel the catheter too. My doctor actually had to tell me to calm down, that everyone was there to help me. I did receive drugs to relax me but I sure wasn't relaxed. I think it is normal to be freaked out, scared or whatever. Just as the svt attacks scare me, so does the idea of ablation. But if you need it then you should get it and move on with your life.
704329 tn?1518526698
Hey, I just wanted to let you know that you'll be in safe hands and the procedure will be fine. Im 25 and Im going for one to hopefully end these PVC's that ive been battling for a year and a half now. I get over 10000 a day...and feel almost eveyone. I can't wait for mine, and hope i have great success with it. I was really anxious and nervous about the procedure too...but alot of people have helped me with that and re assured me that I'll be ok. So Im just passing it on to you. Let me know if you need any advice or info on the PVC thing...it's somewhat rare that people go for an ablation for them....and alot of people/doctors are stumped by these things...so any advice or info I can give you on what ive learned about them or have done to control them the best I can on a daily basis....let me know. Take care to all!!
Avatar universal
My case  fib is always been caused by improper prescription ,and i am fine  if i stay away from drs.somehow  every time they change meds  i suffer . and they go back  to what i had . How can one tell if ablation  really is going to  resolve the problem . now i dont think ablation will help me  i have a new  problem  morning HBP .nevehad it before  started after this last  misdianoses,i was told ablation would help ,how ,why?
Avatar universal
Hi - I'm so glad your ablation went well!  I have one scheduled for Friday.  I am 43 and have had svt since I was 16.  I feel good about having the ablation done but for some reason I am the most worried about the fentanyl and versed that they give.  My body is hypersensitve to drugs and I am going to ask for a small dose.  What was your experience with this?  Thanks!
1423357 tn?1511089042
Good luck on Friday.  Check my journal entries for my experience.  It was very positive and I didn't have any problems.  You'll do fine!  I was under general anesthesia, so I don't remember a thing!
1465650 tn?1316234760
Had my ablation done 3½ months ago and I don't know what I would have done without this community. They are the living angels that have guided me through my most desperate times especially with post ablation issues.
With such a warm and generous community like this one, I will never be scared again.

Good luck on your ablation, remember we are all here to share advice and if needed just to read (listen) to your issues and share your anguish.

Take care  
503607 tn?1275675179
I had my ablation a year ago this month,  I was a wreck and when it was over I wondered by the heck I worried so much.  I did it without any meds and I can say it was easy.   The time on the table flew.   My heart was easily provoked and I was ablated in a few areas and I was done.  I am on Atenolol since the ablation becasue they could not ablate the area where my pvc's were coming so I was a little disappointed because my pvc's were the real issue.  They were 24/7.  With the help of the Atenolol I only get a few here and there.  They were able to ablate my Afib and SVT.   Try not to get yourself all worked up, you will be back here telling us how easy it was.  If your receiving meds it will be even easier.   Good Luck!  Keep us updated.
Avatar universal
I'm getting ready to have my ablation this coming Friday, and want to tell everybody Thank You! from the bottom of my heart. I was so scared Oh my God, you have no idea. Taking time to read everyone expirience wz the ablation procedure, it really give me a lot of courage and streght. Thank you all you are all wonderful people
Avatar universal
I had a catheter ablation done about a month ago for A-fib.  In Minnesota we are very lucky to have two top heart centers (Abott Northwestern/Minneapolis Heart Institute and Mayo Clinic).  Before I decided to proceed with having this surgery I did lots of research( I think that's why I was so at peace with the proceedure, even though I am terrified to even go the dentist).  One of the key things I found was having a top heart center(one that does many of these proceedures) and a Dr. at that center that has done many.  the Dr. I had do my surgery does more of these proceedures than anyone in the upper midwest.  That's all he does on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I did not do well on all the medications that I was put on to control my heart.  That was my main reason, besides being fairly young (50) to go ahead with the proceedure.  With the high success rate and the very low rate of problems(this is maximized at top centers with top Dr.s) I felt very confident in success and freedom from A-fib and medications.

For someone who has problems going to the dentist I can honestly say that I would do this surgery again in a heartbeat (no pun intended) if needed.  I showed up the day of surgery at 5:45 AM, waited a few minutes and was brought to a pre-op room.  They had me get undressed and get into a special gown.  They shave your chest and groin area and wash it.  I waited a few more minutes and then in quick succession I had visits from the Anesthesiaologist, the Dr. and seveal nurses.  They all explain what will be happening and what to expect.  The IV gets inserted and at the last minute they informed me that I would be having a urinary catheter, fortunately that got inserted when I was sedated and before I could freak out to much about it.  With all the preliminaries out of the way it was go time and my bed got wisked into the operating room.  I remember a mask getting placed on my face and being told to inhale deeply.  I did this twice and that was the last thing I remember before waking up in the post-op room.  I had two nurses keeping an eye on me, one that was with me constantly.  I was a little nausous and my throat was sore from the breathing tube that they insert during surgery...........no problem she gave me something for both and I felt great and groggy.   After a while they removed the five different catheter tubes one at a time, but needed to apply pressure and wait until everything was O.K. before moving on to the 2,3,4 and 5th.  After that I was suppose to get transfered to a room but as they say....... there was no room at the inn.  I got to spend my laying flat on my back time with all the nice nurses in post op.  When a room finally opened up in the hospital I was past the bed rest part of the proceedure and got to spend the rest of the day and night in my room.  One other side note......I was always apprehensive about being naked in the hospital..........after getting shaved, washed and having a urinary catheter all that fear is out the window.  I think I could walk around naked in the hospital now if they wanted me to.  It really was no big deal.

I was put on a blood thinner called Pradaxa for 45 days and was released the next morning.   Besides a weight lifting restriction for a week I didn't have to change anything in my life.  I was back to work after the weekend(I had my surgery on a Thursday).  I have about 15 more days of Pradaxa and have a follow up with my Dr. in another two months.    So far no pain, no A-fib and no complications.  If everything is still good when I see him the hope is to ween me off all my meds.  

I hope this helps anyone considering having this proceedure.
1423357 tn?1511089042
Yah, the foley catheter was a little surprise that I didn't expect. It was like "WHAT THE.....!!!" for me.  I was not permitted to preshave due to the possibility of infection, but the orderly that the deed was really nonchalant about and it put me at ease.  It's funny how you lose the inhibitions after only a couple of hours in the hospital. I got a hit of Vallium in the drip line just before wheeling me down.  I remember saying, "it's not working, it's not working!" but the overhead lights started blur as I was wheeled under each one, so I knew it was hitting me.  I barely remember scooting onto the cath table. A whiff of gas and I was gone.  
Avatar universal
Hi Everyone, I have SVT and going in for an ablation september 13th. I am very scard. even though everyone keeps saying, oh it's a simple operation all i can think of is yeah easy for you to say it not your heart. I was to have it last friday but it was rescheduled for sept 13th so no I even longer to worry... I am concern  about the after surgery recovery.
1423357 tn?1511089042
I think we all have a high level of anxiety leading up to it.  It's not a "simple operation", but the pain associated with it is fairly low.  Plus if you get some sedation, it'll be over before you know it.

The procedure is "surgery" in the most broadest sense.  The Insertion of the catheters is done by a puncture, very similar to the size of the needle used for donating blood.  There's no sutures, the wound is covered and allowed to clot and heal on its own.  Most places use that "Saran Wrap" material to cover the punctures, and you can shower the next day.  The covering begins to pull away in the following days.  I limped around for a few days, but within a couple of weeks, I was motoring around like nothing happened, and I'm 60 y/o.  If you have any further questions, ask them in a separate post, and there are a number of us here who've had the procedure done that would be happy to answer them for you.  Good luck!
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