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Heart Ablation - Things We All Must Know!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Nishith Chandra 91% (729 ratings)
DM Cardiology
Cardiologist, Delhi  •  25 years experience
Heart Ablation - Things We All Must Know!

Heart ablation or cardiac ablation is a procedure done to treat irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias. It is performed by an interventional cardiologist, a doctor who specialises in doing procedures for heart problems and it involves threading long wires called catheters through a blood vessel into your heart. The irregular heartbeats is treated by delivering an electrical pulse using electrodes to specific areas of your heart.

Arrhythmias
A normal heart beats at a steady rate, but sometimes, your heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or unevenly. These heart rhythm problems are called arrhythmias and one of the treatments for this heart problem is cardiac ablation. Other treatment modalities are medications and changes in lifestyle. Heart ablation is prescribed when the other treatments fail. Arrhythmias mostly happen in older people and in people who suffer from other heart problems like cardiomyopathy.

Here are answers to most frequently asked questions related to ablation

Who will benefit from heart ablation?
The beneficiaries include people who

  • Suffer from arrhythmias that don’t respond to medicines
  • Suffer from side effects from arrhythmia medicines
  • Suffer from a specific kind of arrhythmia that respond very well to cardiac ablation
  • Are at a high risk for cardiac arrest or other complications which can be fatal

Cardiac ablation is very helpful for patients who have certain kinds of arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia, which cause fast heartbeats.

How to prepare for cardiac ablation?
You will have to undergo extensive tests to record your heart’s electrical activity and rhythm. Your doctor will ask and record whether you have any other disease like high BP and diabetes.

If you are a woman and pregnant, you must not get this procedure done as it involves radiation. You will not be allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight, the night before the procedure.

How is heart ablation done?

Heart ablations are done in a special room known as an electrophysiology laboratory. It usually takes three to six hours and is usually done under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia with sedation.
The catheters are threaded either from your neck, groyne or arm into your heart. Your cardiologist also injects a special contrast dye to help him see areas of abnormal muscle in your heart. He then uses a catheter with an electrode at the tip to give radiofrequency energy to the weak heart muscle to correct your irregular heartbeat.
You may have to stay overnight after the procedure.

Risks associated

  1. Bleeding
  2. Blood clots
  3. Damage to heart valves or arteries
  4. The build-up of fluid around your heart
  5. Heart attack
  6. Infection

Inflammation of sac surrounding your heart or pericarditis You will have to be monitored regularly after ablation to check for problems in your heart beats. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Cardiologist.

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