Skip to comments.Ablation treatment for AFib(Vanity)
Posted on 03/24/2012 6:02:18 PM PDT by calex59
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I had an Ablation done in 2006 due to a very fast heart rate that they couldn’t slow down with medications. (120)
They knew what the hell they were doing... One night in the hospital and I was home with no restrictions what so ever. My heart rate immediately went down to the mid sixties and has remained there since.
Had to leave for a while but am back now. I just started on digoxin but don't think I will be able to keep it up. I gained 4lbs in 3 days. I assume it is water weight and that means the Digoxin isn't working correctly for me, at least from all I can read on it. Nothing I take decreases the periodic Afib I get. Lucky for me, I don't get severe symptoms, no passing out, no dizziness and no faintness. I can't work as hard when I am in fib though, I get tired a lot easier. Fortunately I am not in it all the time.
However, I have been having more frequent episodes and asked the Doc this week about ablation. I think I will push him for it.
I had the procedure done a little over 4 years ago for atrial flutter. Didn’t have much in the way of symptoms except that I had fainted a few times (probably a total of 3 all early in the morning, shaving, etc.) over a few years before that. Might add that I have done a morning run on fairly regular basis since we moved here in 1969. One time my chest at the lower edge of my ribs was sore on one side & it was uncomfortable running. The diagnosis was pneumonia and after the antibiotic treatment, the Dr. was doing a follow up exam and had me get an ekg. The results were somewhat similar to those shown here: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/757549-overview
He told me that that extra sawtooth waveform was not supposed to be there. The electrical heart doctor cured it with the ablation process. My heart rate had been pretty low (due to good physical condition) & they put in a pacemaker & set it at 60. I was not necessarily convinced that the pacemaker was necessary, since it runs all the time due to the natural low heart rate. The first pacemaker lasted a little over 4 years and I found out that you can learn a lot of interesting things from the pacemaker technician while they are downloading information from the old unit and setting up the new one.
Ablation Procedure: They put you out for the procedure. Mine was held in a room with 4 large monitors overhead, one showing the ekg. Don’t remember what the others were, but one is probably like an x-ray. They run the microwave cable up from your groin to your heart.
I came home the next day for Thanksgiving dinner. (Homemade beat hospital food). As far as I can tell, the atrial flutter is gone & I have not fainted since the procedure. My recovery was probably extended due to the installation of the pacemaker.
An advantage in having a pacemaker is that it records “episodes”. Its sort of like a continuous ekg.
Don’t know if this helps. Let me know if you have any specific questions.
Actually, moderate to heavy alcohol use is well known to cause Afib and to add to existing Afib. Best to stay away from Alcohol if you have Afib. Glad to hear your friends was entirely alcohol related.
Yes, I had a heart cath done once and it is very similar except they were looking for clogged veins, they didn’t find any. You are right that you know what is going on but just don’t care:). Hardest part was lying there afterwards with a sand bag on my leg for 6 hours to let the leg artery clot up before I could move around.
Your experience was different than mine. I wanted to watch, but they put me under.
In discussing the problem and reading the Scandinavian research into it we've figured out that the hereditary afib is definitely related to a naturally square shaped heart where the atrial chambers are LARGER than average ~ this enables your heart to move more blood through the lungs with less breathing ~ probably advantageous in the Arctic.
Second, we all have a characteristic heart beat ~ it goes up to about 120 bpm, then gradually drops off to 40 to 50 bpm during extended exercise.
The Afib problem is on top of that normal beat. Treatment with drugs definitely gets in the way of normal life, particularly when those drugs are trying to SLOW DOWN a 40 bpm rate. Ablation (my father, my cousin, other cousins) definitely is the way to go if you have Afib on top of the square heart (also frequently found among athletes).
First pace maker lasted about 10 years, the one I have now is not going to last that long because the leads going into the heart are not right for some reason.
So, I already have the pace maker all I need is to get rid of the damn A flutter. Very annoying, even when there are not a lot of symptoms associated with it(some people get some severe symptoms, some don't).
but, its a very inexpensive drug compared to some and its probably prolonged a million lives...
I had RF ablation surgery 12 years ago, to correct recurring episodes of tachycardia. My heart rate would take off to 200 bpm. I was awake during the procedure, with only very mild sedation. The scope probe was inserted in one side of my leg and the tool was inserted in the other.
First, the cardio electrophysiologist triggered the tachycardia and mapped the electrical path of the short circuit. Next, he burned the short circuit connection with the RF probe, just like cutting a wire. I could feel my heart take off during the testing.
There was no pain with this procedure. I don’t recall how long the surgery took. After it was over, I had no more tachycardia events.
About 6 years after the surgery, I developed an occasional irregular heart beat. This was found while I was preparing to have rotator cuff surgery. This problem was deemed to be not serious, and I was cleared for anesthesia on this and a couple of other occasions since.
I chose the RF ablation option instead of trying medicines, which might or might not have worked, to control the tachycarda. The doc said he could fix the problem, and he did. I would have the surgery again.
Good luck with your condition and with the surgery if you decide to have it.
I have some friends who are competitive cyclists (masters age categories, and high level) who have had the ablation treatment for afib and tachycardia. One of the had the cryo-ablation instead of the microwave ablation. It was part of the US clinical trials, since the procedure at the time was approved in Europe but not in the US. Cryo-ablation is supposed to leave less “collateral damage” than hitting the area with a high frequency RF current.
“Basically, they kill you by stopping your heart... wait 30 seconds. . .then try to jump-start you using the usual paddles. 1 time in 20, you stay dead.”
This is absolutely, totally and completely untrue! They never stop the heart with cardioversion. They use a regular defibrillator at reduced voltage levels to administer the jolt. It does not stop the heart, but merely “reboots” its rhythm. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 jolts. You never flatline. Normally, they put you under with a very short acting anesthesia like Propofol. Compared to the use of extreme metabolic toxins like amiodarone for chemical conversion, cardioconversion is a vastly preferable option.
I personally worked for a medical device company that designed devices that treat afib. I worked for AtriCure as an engineer. Trust me, they are the gold standard for treatment, and have the largest market share in RF-based afib treatment. If the doctor is quoting 73%, that should be the AtriCure device. AtriCure is the only company that has FDA approval for afib treatment with an RF device.
Of course, it really depends on what kind of afib you have to determine your real success rate.
You can do an open procedure (like the original MAZE but they don’t cut the heart), or minimally invasive. The open procedure does a few more ablations and cures more patients. The minimally invasive can be really nice since it is done on a beating heart. AtriCure has some new devices that can almost do the complete maze minimally invasive.
AtriCure also has an AtriClip which is approved by the FDA. It is clamped over the left atrial appendage (which is where the blood clots originate when you are in afib). They used to use an Ethicon EZ45 stapler to remove the appendage. I was told by a surgeon that the stapler is the most dangerous part.
I have been in the OR during numerous procedures and it is pretty straight forward for an experienced cardiothoracic surgeon. The signals were always confirmed blocked (by a cardiologist or the surgeon himself).
Some surgeons work through a thoracotomy. There can be more pain post-op this way and is the number one complaint. In the past few years, a lot of doctors can now do it completely thoracoscopically... so three small holes.
There are other companies that sell devices without approval for afib, and the doctors are allowed to use them for afib. However, I have personally tried those other devices in a lab and they have a much lower success rate on pentrating cardiac tissue.
Catheter ablations have a very low succes rate (up through the groin). You can get this done multiple times, but you are damaging cardiac tissue each time which could make an RF ablation more difficult, should you need it.
I read a study once that said just as many people die from coumadin side-effects as they do from stroke. So I am not sure how well it is helping people.
I am obviously biased here, but I wanted to at least give you my take.
My mom has afib, too, but the anti-arrithmic drugs work OK, with some digestive side effects. She is still worried all the time though. If it gets worse, she may elect for the RF treatment.
I’ve known four people who had to undergo a second and even a third RF ablation right away because the first (or even second) ones failed. The docs routinely refer to these subsequent ablations as “touchups”, which really means the first procedures were simply failures.
RF ablation is an EXTREMELY demanding procedure and only a few docs can do it well enough to have a decent success rate. Make sure that if you do it, get a doc who has done hundreds, maybe even thousands. Definitely do not get a doc who does just a few a year.
Also, take a really good look at cryoablation done by Dr. Wilber Su in Phoenix as an alternative to RF ablation.
Also, check out StopAfib.org. It has more detail on all of the procedures, including lots of FAQ’s and a forum. You would do great going there.
I had it done in 2002 for atrial flutter. I came out with A Fib. I was told that I had both and the A Fib was masked by the A flutter until the A flutter was stopped.It was pretty damn depressing at the time.
I have had excellent results with rythmol, and am not using coumadin. My current cardiologist says that should meds become ineffective a second ablation is a good way to go. He says the leap in the technical capabilities of ablation over the last 10 years is tremendous. Much better success.
I better hope the meds keep working, I figure after ObamaCare kicks in there is no way I would get approval for ablation if it became necessary.
In answer to your question, if you are dealing with a good physician and he is or knows one who is rated very good at the procedure, it’s well worth the chance to get off meds.
Thanks to you guys for your info. FReepers are first rate, no doubt in my mind. I have garnered some really good info on this thread and greatly appreciate it.
A family member who had it done twice. First time it did not hold - his heart went out of beat again. Second time it did work perfectly. Really worth it. Changed his life.
It was worth the risk to him. Do it now before Obamacare kicks in. You might be denied it later. Pick a heart surgeon who has done a lot of the operations and who is top notch.
Good Luck!! God bless you and keep you safe and well.
I had the procedure done at Boone County Hospital, Columbia, Missouri about five or six years ago. Absolutely no problems relating to the experience and would highly recommend it.
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