Cardiac ablation, also known as catheter ablation, is a procedure used to treat and correct abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). There are many different types of arrhythmias, and they include:
- tachyarrhythmias (the heart beats too fast)
- bradyarrhythmias (the heart beats too slowly)
Arrhythmias have the potential to become life-threatening as abnormal heart rhythms may impair the function of the heart and result in there being less blood pumped to the rest of the body.
The treatment of various tachyarrhythmias may include medications and/or cardiac ablation. Certain arrhythmias are better treated with cardiac ablation, while others may be treated with a course of medications. Moreover, cardiac ablation is usually recommended for cases where the arrhythmias do not get better after a trial of medication.
During the procedure, a small, thin, flexible tube called a catheter will be passed through a blood vessel (artery or vein) in the groin and guided upwards into the heart using fluoroscopy or X-rays. Once in the heart, after ascertaining the cause of tachyarrhythmias, tiny scars will be created using heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold energy (cryoablation) over the cardiac tissue causing abnormal heart rhythms, scarring these small tissues and thus, restoring the heart back to its normal rhythm.
After cardiac ablation, you may also be recommended some oral medication such as short-term or long-term blood thinners, as well as instituting certain lifestyle changes (e.g. more exercise, quitting smoking) to help better control your condition.