Cardiac ablation is a procedure used to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib). It targets the tissue that produces the electrical signal that causes an irregular heartbeat. The tissue is destroyed, so the source of the AFib is destroyed as well. Ablation is usually a last line of defense and only used if other procedures and medications do not adequately address the issue.
As with most medical procedures, there are things that patients need to know before considering an ablation. Knowing what to expect after AFib ablation will help you understand what is normal, what kind of care is required, and when you should call your doctor.
What to Expect Immediately After the Procedure
There are multiple factors that determine how a person will react to anesthesia. The reactions can range from very little discernible effects to prolonged grogginess. If you’ve never had a procedure that required general anesthesia, your best bet is to prepare for a few days of feeling the aftereffects. If you feel tired, don’t fight it. Give your body the rest it needs.
There may be a bandage over the procedure site. You may not feel much at first due to the anesthesia. It may be sore immediately, or the soreness might progress over a few days.
Coughing and a sore throat are also common. Many people experience this after general anesthesia. Some throat lozenges may help, as well as staying hydrated.
What to Expect in the Days Following Your AFib Ablation
After the procedure, you may notice a lump about the size of a walnut or small bruise at the catheter insertion site in the groin area. This is normal. However, if you notice that the area becomes tender or painful, warm to the touch, or if it swells, you should contact your doctor immediately. If you feel dizzy, get a fever, or experience any other unusual symptoms, this also warrants a call to your doctor.
You may still experience your arrhythmia and have some chest pain. This is normal as your heart adjusts to the new rhythm that is a result of the ablation. You may notice that it gets faster or slower or the duration may change. This could go on for a few weeks. This does not mean the procedure did not work; it just means your body is getting into balance.
Digestive issues like acid reflux are common aftereffects of ablation. You may also experience some bloating and may need to reduce your portions at mealtime for a few weeks. Eating several small meals during the day and taking an OTC acid blocker usually helps with any discomfort.
Contact Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A.
At Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. your heart health is our concern. Our experienced, compassionate team will ensure that you receive the best care possible. Schedule your appointment today or talk with one of our representatives who will be happy to answer any questions you may have about heart health and heart procedures.