Preparing for medical procedures can be unsettling for many people. Knowing what to expect allows you to prepare, thus alleviating much of your anxiety. Here are four of the more common cardiac procedures that are performed to treat heart arrhythmias – and what you can expect as you begin the healing process.

Ablation

Cardiac ablation is a common medical procedure that involves the scarring of minute areas within the heart in order to correct heart rhythm problems. Electrodes (tiny wires) are inserted into the heart, measuring its electrical activity. When the problem area is found, the tissue in that area is burned or destroyed. The scar tissue can prevent abnormal rhythms or electrical signals from moving through the heart.

Patients will typically experience pain in the groin at the insertion site as well as chest pain and tightness. The severity will vary from patient to patient, but it will typically worsen then the patient coughs or takes a deep breath. The pain will usually subside over a matter of days until it is completely gone.

WATCHMAN

The WATCHMAN is an occlusion device that is designed to prevent A-Fib clots. It is installed via a catheter in the left atrial appendage. The procedure often takes less than a half hour to complete and is very low risk. Additionally, it can eliminate the need for blood thinners.

The most common complaint after the procedure is sharp chest pain that gets worse when taking deep breaths. The pain may worsen during the first few days following the procedure, and then gradually subside over a two to three-week period. There may also be some oozing or bleeding at the groin puncture sites. If it cannot be controlled by direct pressure or is bleeding moderately then you should seek immediate medical attention.

Defibrillator

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (KCD) is a small electrical device that helps regulate abnormal heartbeats, also called arrhythmias. The device is implanted in the patient’s chest area just below the collarbone. The patient is usually awake during the procedure and can go home the same day.

After the procedure there may be some pain at the insertion site. However, most patients are able to return to their normal activities within a few days. There may be some movement restriction of the arm on the side that the device was placed.

Pacemaker

A pacemaker is another device that is used to regulate a patient’s heartbeat. It is usually implanted in the upper chest area. The procedure itself is fairly quick and not very invasive. Most patients are able to go home within 24 hours.

Many patients experience tenderness, pain, and swelling in the area where the device was placed. The pain is usually not severe and can be controlled with over the counter medications. There may be some activity restrictions regarding heavy lifting and vigorous activity for about four weeks following pacemaker surgery.

If you or a loved one is one of the estimated 2.7 million Americans living with a heart rhythm disorder, and are interested in learning more about your treatment options, call us. Dr. Mathew specializes in the management of heart rhythm disorders and can walk you through the various treatment options to suit your needs.