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The contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle helps in pumping blood all over the body. There is a set electrical system within the heart that helps the cardiac muscles contract. If these electrical paths are blocked by some reason, it causes a short circuit within the heart. There are many treatment options available to correct heart diseases or conditions like supraventricular tachycardia, atrial tachycardia or atrial flutter. Cardiac ablation is one of the procedures used to correct these heart problems. Before one undergoes a medical procedure, the first thought that comes to mind is the risks involved in it. The following paragraphs will discuss a few risks that will help you understand the pros and cons of this procedure.
What is Cardiac Ablation?
Cardiac ablation is a non-invasive cardiac procedure. It is also known as cardiac catheter ablation, radiofrequency ablation or just ablation. In this procedure, a thin, narrow tube or catheter is inserted into a blood vessel present in the upper arm, groin or neck region. Then it is pushed towards the heart. The tube is directed towards the heart using images that are created by a machine called fluoroscope. When the tube reaches its destination, that is, the heart, electrical measurements are carried out using electrodes at the end of the tube. Then, an electric jolt is applied to the area of the heart tissue that is having irregular heartbeats. The tissue is scarred or destroyed that is blocking the electrical impulses. When the pathway is cleared, the irregular heartbeats may return to normal. The recovery period is quick after a procedure. The patient is advised to lay still for about 6 hours to prevent bleeding at the insertion site. The patient may be allowed to go home within 24 hours after being kept under observation. The patient can resume his normal duties a couple of days later or as advised by the doctor.
When is Cardiac Ablation Carried Out
Cardiac ablation is never the first choice of treatment. The doctor will first try out different treatment options to treat cardiac arrhythmia and remove the interruptions in the electrical system. Cardiac ablation is carried out only if there is no change in the irregular heartbeat with medications. The patient has high risk of cardiac arrest due to arrhythmia or the patient suffers from Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
Risks of Cardiac Ablation
Like any other surgical procedure, there are certain risks involved in cardiac ablation. These risks of cardiac ablation include bleeding at the site of insertion of catheter. There is an increase risk of infection, as the catheter is inserted into the blood vessel. While the catheter is being pushed through, there are chances it may scrape the delicate wall of the blood vessel. This may cause bleeding and infection at the site of injury. In some cases, the catheter may puncture the heart and cause more heart problems. This may create a 'heart block' that makes it impossible for the blood to circulate through the heart. The electric impulses sent through the electrodes may further damage the electrical system. This may create more problems related to beating of the heart. This may require a pacemaker to correct the arrhythmia. In some cases, there are blood clots that are difficult to remove and heal the site of injury. These blood clots also increase the chances of heart attack as well as stroke. The catheter may cause pulmonary vein stenosis, that is, narrowing of the veins between the heart and lungs. In some cases, the kidney is damaged due to the dye used for cardiac ablation.
In extremely rare cases, cardiac ablation may cause death of the patient. The risk increases when the patient is having diabetes or suffers from kidney diseases. Diabetes increases the chances of developing infection and prevents healing at the site of insertion of catheter. Therefore, speak to your doctor regarding the risks of cardiac ablation before undergoing the procedure. Cardiac ablation is not always 100% successful in treating the heart rate and rhythm problems. A patient may be required to undergo more than one cardiac ablation procedures. Along with ablation, other methods of treatments may be required. Make sure you take care of your heart health to prevent heart problems.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.