Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

At the Keyhole Heart Clinic, we are experienced in Atrial Fibrillation ablation, and you will find all the information concerning this procedure here. The Atrial Fibrillation ablation procedure is a treatment used to alleviate the atrial fibrillation heart rhythm completely. Here, we explain the types of Atrial Fibrillation as well as the varying aspects of the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation recovery period. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with us today to find out more.

What is Atrial Fibrillation Ablation?

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is a heart rhythm disorder that occurs when the blood does not flow as it should through the atria, causing blood to pool inside, increasing the risk of a blood clot. Atrial Fibrillation is thought to arise from one or more of the pulmonary veins (where the lungs meet the heart) leading to an uncoordinated rapid contraction of the heart. Atrial Fibrillation ablation is the procedure used to treat this issue, and there are three types of AFib;

  • Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, Persistent and Chronic/Permanent.

Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation is where the symptoms occur regularly, then spontaneously stopping. This can range for how long it occurs, from a few seconds, hours or even many days before returning to a normal rhythm. IF it is persistent, then this is where it lasts for longer than 7 days, and Chronic, or permanent, is where it reaches the point of being a constant issue, going on for many years.

The objective of any form of Atrial Fibrillation ablation therapy is to electrically isolate the pulmonary veins from the rest of the heart in an attempt to prevent these haphazard stimuli. The signs of Atrial Fibrillation symptoms can include:

  • Chest Pain
  • Light-headedness
  • Fatigue
  • Heart Palpitations – chaotic beating
  • Shortness of Breath

The Atrial Fibrillation causes can stem from genetics to medications, but they are also influenced by lifestyle including alcohol intake, obesity, caffeine, nicotine, low potassium or magnesium levels and illicit drug use. There can be a wide range of reasons why this may happen, and the Atrial Fibrillation life expectancy will vary. Therefore, we provide Atrial Fibrillation treatment to help the heart’s normal function and help those living with Atrial Fibrillation with a surgical solution. So, what are the types of Atrial Fibrillation treatment we can provide at the Keyhole Heart Clinic?

Catheter ablation for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation:

This treatment involves the advancement of catheters into the heart via the groin vessels. These catheters are placed at the orifices of the pulmonary veins and can detect abnormal electrical activity in these zones. Any detected abnormal activity can be destroyed with radiofrequency heat energy or cryotherapy cooling energy.

This type of treatment is most effective in patients with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, where the Atrial Fibrillation occurs occasionally. The immediate result of Catheter ablation can be very good. However, recurrence can happen in as many as 30% of patients within one year and repeat therapies may be required. Keyhole surgical ablation is far more effective in the short and long term and should be considered if catheter pulmonary vein isolation does not work. We would not advise continued medical control if there is a good chance that the Atrial Fibrillation can be cured.

Something to bear in mind is that Catheter ablation is not an effective therapy for permanent Atrial Fibrillation. When the rate of atrial fibrillation cannot be controlled with drugs, a different strategy is sometimes required where the conduction system that connects the fast beating atrial chambers (the AV node) can be disconnected from the big muscular ventricles. This is called AV Node Ablation. The heart rate must be restored using a permanent pacemaker, but unfortunately, the efficiency of the heart’s normal function cannot be restored using this therapy. We do not advise AV node ablation without first considering a surgical strategy for Atrial Fibrillation Ablation. It is also vital to exclude the presence of leaking heart valves (especially one valve called the mitral valve), as this may require surgical repair in order to ever have any chance of alleviating the Atrial Fibrillation.

Surgical treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (Maze procedure):

Pulmonary vein isolation for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation is a very effective therapy. In patients with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, Keyhole Atrial Fibrillation ablation can be performed. Clinicians are beginning to realize that when catheter-based therapies fail to control Atrial Fibrillation in its early phase, surgical ablation should be offered as an effective solution to Atrial Fibrillation and Strokes.

In more advanced diseases where Atrial Fibrillation can become permanent, surgical therapies are very effective in experienced hands and should be considered in suitable patients. Patients undergoing any form of heart surgery should be considered for surgical Atrial Fibrillation Ablation at the same time.

Stand-alone surgery (i.e. Atrial Fibrillation Ablation only) should be considered for symptomatic patients who prefer a surgical approach. They may have failed one or more attempts at Catheter ablation or are not suitable candidates for Catheter ablation.

Atrial Fibrillation FAQs

What are the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation procedure risks?

Like with any surgery, there are of course some risks. These can vary, from small issues – such as bleeding around where the surgical site or where the catheter was inserted – to more serious issues, such as a stroke or heart attack. While the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation procedure risks are small when completed in the hands of professionals, we would still highly recommend talking to your doctor before undertaking the surgery about the Atrial Fibrillation ablation stroke risks, so that you can fully understand the risks and benefits before committing to the surgery.

Is Atrial Fibrillation ablation dangerous? No, but like many technical medical procedures on delicate organs, complications can arise due to the nature of the treatment.

What is the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation recovery period like?

The Atrial Fibrillation ablation recovery period is very manageable and should not cause too much inconvenience for you. If you opt for a Catheter ablation for Atrial Fibrillation, you will rest quietly for a few hours before you are allowed to return home. Usually, you can leave for home on the same day of the surgery. You may feel slightly sore, but you can usually return to work and your daily activities within just a few days. You can read our patient testimonials to learn about how others have experienced surgery here at The Keyhole Heart Clinic.

If you have the Surgical Maze procedure performed by keyhole heart surgery, your recovery time will still be very quick but you will need to stay in hospital for 3 or 4 days. However, the results will be far better than with the Catheter ablation method. When discussing your options with your doctor, they will explain and warn you about all aspects of the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation recovery period.

If you have further questions about any types of heart surgery that we offer, or if you want to chat to one of our friendly team, please feel free to get in touch and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Tue 28 February 2017

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