Some of these rhythm problems are due to an extra electrical pathway which acts like a short-circuit causing the heart to beat very fast. If this pathway can be permanently interrupted (the term is ablated), the abnormally fast heartbeat can be cured.
As ablation causes little or no pain, you are usually mildly sedated with local anaesthetic. Long, flexible tubes (catheters) are inserted through a vein in your groin or at your neck and threaded up to your heart. Once they are in the correct position, high frequency energy is sent through the wire to heat up and destroy an area of tissue that is causing the arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. This procedure usually takes 2 to 4 hours but if more complicated can take longer.
When your procedure is finished, all the tubes and wires are removed. Sometimes there can be a small amount of bleeding from the groin area when they are taken out. Pressure will be put on the area for a short while to stop any bleeding. Some bruising and tenderness is not uncommon.
You will be kept lying flat on your back for a few hours and may be kept in hospital overnight. Many people feel tired afterwards, but within a few days you should feel back to normal.
Ablation procedures can be very successful but for some people they may need to have it repeated. Medications may need to be continued even after ablation.
There are a range of changes you can make to your lifestyle that may help to improve your heart health and prevent further problems. These include:
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, like in coffee, alcohol, and nicotine from smoking. These can trigger an irregular heart rate.
- Have your blood pressure and cholesterol monitored regularly, and keep them under control.
- Be active. Check with your doctor or nurse what a safe and reasonable level of activity or exercise is for you before you start.
- Reduce stress and find ways to manage or control any stress you cannot avoid.
- Eat heart-healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight
- Go for regular check-ups. They will help you maintain your quality of life.