Catheter Ablation Treatment for Heart Arrhythmias
If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia, you may feel like your heart is skipping a beat or fluttering in your chest. You’re not alone. Millions of Americans are diagnosed with heart arrhythmias. If medications do not help you once you have a diagnosis, your provider may suggest a catheter ablation procedure to treat your heart arrhythmia.
Catheter Ablation Treatment
Catheter ablation is a procedure in which flexible wires (catheters) are inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and guided to the heart. An electrophysiologist (a cardiologist with a specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias) then carefully scars small areas of the heart tissue using radiofrequency (heat) or cryotherapy (cold). Either treatment scars the tissue areas that generate and conduct abnormal electrical activity, causing the irregular heart rhythm.
Benefits of a Catheter Ablation
There are many benefits of having a catheter ablation with the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute team. They include:
- Performed by a board-certified electrophysiologist whose training includes three years additional training beyond board certification in cardiology
- May reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of your heart arrhythmia
- Does not require stitches
- For many patients, long-term reduction in the number of symptomatic episodes and severity of symptoms
- Typically, return to normal life and activities after the procedure
- For many patients, reduced medications following a successful catheter ablation
- No chest incisions or ports
- Short hospital stay (overnight) or go home the same day
How Do the Specialists Know Where to Do an Ablation?
An electrophysiologist will conduct an electrophysiology (EP) study to determine approximately where the abnormal tissue is in your heart that is causing the arrhythmia. Once the origin of the arrhythmia is known, the physician will create a more precise electrical map of your heart with a 3D mapping system. This map gives the doctor an electrical view of your heart and tells him or her where to position the ablation catheters to burn or freeze the abnormal areas.
Where Is an Ablation Performed?
In most cases, the procedure is done in an electrophysiology lab, in a hospital setting, and can take approximately one to three hours for the procedure. Sometimes it may take longer.
Norton Heart & Vascular Institute has two state-of-the-art electrophysiology labs where catheter ablations are performed located in Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Hospital. We use 3D imaging to map your heart and identify the spot of tissue that’s causing the irregular heartbeat. Then we complete minimally invasive ablation procedures to treat the issue.
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Catheter Ablation?
You may be a candidate if you:
- Have symptoms associated with your arrhythmias
- Have not tolerated or are unable to take medications to control your arrhythmia
- Have other health conditions that are being worsened by your arrhythmia
- Have addressed lifestyle factors that influence your arrhythmia and still experience symptoms