Five common heart conditions that can be treated with a Cardiac Ablation

Atrial Fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm abnormality in the general population. Other common arrhythmias include supraventricular tachycardias and ventricular tachycardias. Over the years, these arrhythmic conditions have become more common and the prevalence is predicted to rise even further. These arrhythmias can have a significant impact on the quality of life, with potentially debilitating symptoms. Fortunately, due to advances in the field of heart rhythm management, a number of interventions have been developed with the aim of eradicating the symptoms associated with heart arrhythmias.

Catheter ablation, also known as cardiac ablation, is a procedure that is used to treat heart rhythm abnormalities. Catheter ablation is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure used to treat a range of heart arrhythmias, which occur due to problems with the heart’s electrical signalling systems.

The symptoms associated with heart rhythm abnormalities vary widely and can range from severe debilitating symptoms to mild or even no symptoms. Common symptoms associated with arrhythmias include palpitations, difficulty breathing and a reduction in effort tolerance. Depending on the type of arrhythmia, in specific circumstances arrhythmias can also be life threatening.

A decision to perform catheter ablation takes into account a number of factors including the symptoms associated with the arrhythmia, patient preference and co-existence of other conditions that may influence the outcome of a catheter ablation procedure. Your heart rhythm specialist will take time to discuss these considerations in detail. The timing of a catheter ablation may also have am important impact on outcome, with some arrhythmias responding more favourably to early intervention.

Catheter ablation should be performed by a cardiac specialist with expertise in the area of catheter ablation. The procedure involves carefully inserting a catheter (a thin flexible wire) into the heart via a vein or an artery, usually in the upper leg. The catheter is able to measure the heart’s electrical activity to help pinpoint where abnormal signals are coming from – and then deliver treatment (either by heating or freezing the targeted cells) in order to eliminate or block abnormal electrical signals.

The majority of catheter ablation procedures are associated with low risk and effectively treat heart arrhythmias. The aim of most catheter ablation procedures is to cure the problem entirely. Heart ablation recovery time is usually short and straightforward, but you will need to allot a few days to rest, relax and fully regenerate.

Here are five common heart conditions that can be treated with a catheter ablation:

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition that causes an irregular and, in most cases, an abnormally fast heart rate. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include heart palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Treatments for atrial fibrillation include medicines to control your heartbeat and thin your blood. It’s not clear what causes atrial fibrillation, but it’s common in people with other heart conditions.

There are many treatments to combat arterial fibrillation, but one of the most effective is cardiac ablation. This a procedure a treatment for an which uses heat or cold energy to block the abnormal electrical signals and restore a normal heartbeat.

Atrial flutter

The heartbeat is controlled by an electrical system which works to effectively pump blood around the body. Atrial flutter is a type of abnormal heart rhythm and occurs when a short circuit in the heart causes the upper chambers (atria) to pump very rapidly. Atrial flutter is important not only because of its symptoms but because it can seriously impact an individual’s health and can even cause strokes that can lead to permanent disability or death.

An ablation targeted at this condition aims to create scar tissue within an upper chamber of the heart in order to block the electrical signals that cause a fluttering heartbeat.

Supraventricular tachycardia

Supraventricular tachycardia is a condition where your heart suddenly beats much faster than normal – usually for a few minutes or sometimes several hours. Fundamentally, this condition is caused by a problem with the electrical system that controls your heartbeat.

Again, an ablation is a very effective treatment for this this condition – targeting the problem incisively to eradicate the malfunction in the heart’s electrical system. This procedure uses a narrow plastic tube, or catheter, to kill cells responsible for the heart rhythm problems caused by supraventricular tachycardia.

Ectopic beats

Ectopic beats are premature or extra heartbeats, which can cause you to have palpitations. ‘Ectopic’ means out of place. Ectopic beats happen when cells away from your hearts own natural rhythm become unstable and release an electrical signal, causing an ‘extra’ heartbeat.

If the ectopic beats are from a single site within the heart, catheter ablation can be an effective treatment option. Using electrical signals from within your heart, the cardiac ablation will locate the exact origin of the ectopic beats and uses high frequency energy targeted at the site to eliminate the abnormal beats.

Ventricular tachycardia

Ventricular tachycardia is a type of abnormal heart rhythm and occurs when the lower chamber of the heart beats too fast to pump blood effectively and the body doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood.

Ablation is a highly successful procedure for this type of complaint and most impactful in patients with otherwise normal hearts – in this cohort, the success rate exceeds 90%.

Overall, cardiac ablation is a simple and efficacious form of treatment for a variety of heart arrhythmias – with many leading to individuals leading asymptomatic outcomes. If you would like more information on what cardiac ablations can do for you then please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help: