What to expect after catheter ablation
When your procedure is complete, the catheters will be removed. In order to prevent bleeding, your doctor will apply pressure to the site of insertion. You will need to remain still for up to six hours. During this time, you will be connected to a monitor, which will display your heart rhythm. You may experience the following side effects:
- Chest discomfort
- Heart palpitations
These side effects are completely normal, and should subside after about two days. Depending on your stroke risk which is calculated from the CHADSVASC or CHADS score , your doctor may also prescribe anticoagulants for up to six months or longer after the procedure to prevent blood clotting and in turn decrease your risk of stroke.. An anti-arrhythmic drug may also be necessary for several months.
After the procedure, it is important to bear in mind the following points:
- Avoid lifting for up to a week
- Avoid swimming and bathing for up to a week
- Avoid physical activity that may stress the body until you are feeling stronger
- Do not be disheartened if you experience atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter for the first 1-3 months (blanking period) after an atrial fibrillation ablation procedure. This is quite common and is as a result of inflammation of the heart tissue. In up to two thirds of patients these arrhythmias generally resolve after the inflammation around the heart has subsided and re-do ablations are not required. Your cardiologist may put you on an anti- arrhythmic drug during this blanking period.
In the time following your procedure, you will be required to see your doctor for follow-up visits. It is recommended that follow up-visits should start three months after your procedure, and continue for two years. If you experience heart palpitations, you may need to wear monitor.
At your follow-up visits, it may be necessary for you to undergo some of the following tests:
- Transesophogeal echocardiogram
- Computed tomography
- Holter monitor test
- International normalized ratio
- Blood tests and lab work